The Infamous Warren

Warren. That was his name. I didn’t know who he was, but I knew he was a very, very bad kid. Sometimes I wondered what kinds of misdeeds Warren was guilty of because I saw his name on the chalkboard every time I went to music class at Julia Shannon Elementary School in 1983. We had music class two times a week in fourth grade, and every time my class shuffled into the room, Warren’s name was already on the chalkboard. I assumed he had probably already had music class that day and had broken all sorts of rules yet again. The music teacher was a patient woman, but when she got cross with someone, she’d write their name on [...]

Charlie’s all-nighter

It happened again. Charlie, the 6-year-old Beagle whose mission in life is to make me a crazy person, escaped the fence at dusk yesterday. As previously reported in this column, Charlie has Houdini-level skills when it comes to devising new ways to escape the confines of our backyard fence. Dig under. Jump over. Squeeze through. He’ll do whatever it takes. I used to take his determination to run away from home personally. “Fine!” I’d think to myself. “If he hates it here so much, he can just go.” But then I’d worry about him and pray for him to come home safe. After a few hours, he’d show back up by the front door, doing a classic bad-dog-walk-of-shame. The look [...]

The day has come

A long-awaited day has finally come. As a woman who has spent the past 5 years driving her offspring to two and then three different schools during rush-hour traffic, I’m thrilled to report that the kids – all three of them – are now at one school. I’m drunk on the freedom. High on convenience. Celebrating the simplicity. Depositing and collecting all three kids in one place each school day might not sound like a big deal, but if you’ve ever spent more than five minutes in any school drop-off or pick-up line, you know this is huge. The problem with school drop-off is two-pronged. First, there’s a time constraint. Most schools don’t unlock their doors until about 30 minutes [...]

Hurricane Reno

I’m typing this week’s column with my laptop perched precariously on an ironing board in my bedroom. My door is shut in a futile attempt to keep out the thunderous noises happening downstairs, which no longer seem to be bothering my two dogs who are snoring softly on the bed behind me. And I’m drinking soda from a plastic Solo cup, washing forks in the bathroom sink and wondering if life will ever get back to normal. This is life in the midst of a home remodeling project. A few days ago, a friend asked me how the project was going. I closed my eyes, rubbed my temples and said, “It feels like a hurricane is happening inside our house, [...]

Insulted by an iPhone

There are benefits to being an “early adopter” of new technologies. If you’re a parent, the ability to navigate new technology makes it tougher for your teenagers to write you off as completely clueless. If you’re in the workplace, being able to talk the technological talk makes people born after 1985 decide that perhaps it’s not yet time to put you out to professional pasture. In addition to the parenting and professional perks, sometimes new technology is just plain fun. Virtual Reality apps will let you see how a new sofa would look in your own living room before you buy it at the store. And the iPhone’s “Animoji” technology lets you send friends a voice text message in the [...]

Apology to my mother

Dear Mom, This letter is about 29 years overdue, but it took me this long to realize I needed to write it. It turns out you were right all along. It really is hard to ride in the passenger seat while your teenage kid is driving. And you weren’t overreacting to every little thing I did behind the wheel. You were just trying to make sure we both survived the whole terrifying ordeal. I get it now. Boy, do I get it. As you know, I’ve taken your place as the nervous mother in the passenger seat. The baby boy who I once swaddled and cooed at while he smiled up at me from his crib is now a gangly [...]

Won’t you be my neighbor?

In more than 20 years of writing this column, I’ve never recommended a movie. Trained movie critics do it better than I ever could. Plus, people have different taste in movies. What one person thinks is great art or entertainment, another person thinks is a snooze. But today I’m breaking my 20-year rule to tell you that the Mister Rogers documentary titled “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” is so wonderful that, if you don’t see it, I’ll feel sad for you that you missed it. It’s that good. I took our three kids to the movies to see it today. Even though they’ve seen reruns of the Mister Rogers Neighborhood show on PBS several times, I wasn’t sure they’d enjoy [...]

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 [...]