Spicing up the New Year

I don’t have it all together and, most of the time, I feel like an imposter pretending to be a grown-up. But you’d never know it by looking at my spice cabinet. One of my main gripes about a New Year is the pressure to do more, be more, and have more. All the relentless resolution-making wears me out. Just when you think you’re an acceptable human being, January rolls around and makes you feel like a lazy loser in dire need of a life makeover. But I know that any grand promise I make in January often turns out to be an “oh well” by the time I hit March. For me, small changes have the best shot at [...]

Under Cover

Last summer I banished the dog from our bedroom at night. We’d been letting him sleep on a chair by our bed, but he started stirring around and making noise at 2 a.m. each night. So I took Charlie and his doggie bed downstairs to the sunroom and explained that, at my age, I need all the beauty sleep I can get. But the weather has turned bitterly cold the past few nights, and my icy determination to exile the dog has thawed. The sunroom isn’t heated, and Charlie isn’t well-insulated. No matter how much he eats, he stays perpetually skinny. (Some dogs have all the luck.) And he doesn’t have long hair, unlike the cat who has so much [...]

Don’t ignore the nudge

If you’ve ever hated yourself for doing (or not doing) something, you know how I felt today. I sat down on the barstool where I always sit at the diner where my dad and I have breakfast each morning. Waiting on the seat next to me was a woman I’ve met a few times before. She turned to me and said, “I didn’t have your phone number, so I came to tell you… My dad passed away yesterday.” The news hit me like a hard blow to the chest. Her dad, a smart, kind 73-year-old man named Bob, was my friend and my dad’s friend, and the three of us had been having breakfast together at that diner for almost [...]

Homework: Too much or not enough?

When I pick up our three kids from school, I ask two questions as soon as they get in the car. The first is “How did it go today?” The answers range anywhere from a grunt to a “Fine” to a lengthy blow-by-blow of the day’s events, depending on which kid I’m asking and how much he or she is willing to indulge Mom’s curiosity on any given day. The second question is “Do you have any homework?” For two of the three kids – the 4th grader and the 7th grader in public school – the answer is almost always “no.” For the 9th grader who goes to a charter school, the answer is almost always “yes.” In fact, [...]

Black Friday: Hard pass

I’m not a Black Friday shopper. I’m a Black Friday sleeper. While the stores see black on the bottom line, the only black I see is the inside of my eyelids while I dream about which Thanksgiving leftovers to eat first. Tom and I did shop on Black Friday once. It was the first Thanksgiving after we got married, and we went to Tampa, Florida to spend the holiday with his parents. His mother had been through reconstructive surgery to have one of her feet rebuilt, so she was getting around slowly on a medical scooter – the kind where you kneel on it with one knee and push with the other leg. As we ate pumpkin pie, my fearless, [...]


It was a dark and stormy October night. Tom was out of town on business and the kids and I were home watching television. Suddenly we heard a loud crack while a bright white light flashed out from behind the flat screen television mounted on the living room wall. The television and half the lights in the house instantly went dark as the home security system started a high-pitched beeping. I jumped off the sofa, feeling my heart pound in my chest. Once I’d determined the kids weren’t hurt, I walked toward the window and stopped a few feet away, remembering that standing by the window during a lightning storm isn’t a great idea. Assuming the storm had thrown a [...]

Simon Says

Do you remember that old game kids played in elementary school? It’s called “Simon Says.” One person (who plays the role of Simon) stands in front of a row of kids and calls out commands like “Touch your ear” or “Take three steps forward.” The only rule was that you absolutely could not do any of those commands if they weren’t preceded by the phrase “Simon says,” as in “Simon says quack like a duck.” If Simon didn’t say “Simon says” and you started quacking like a duck anyway, then you’d be out of the game. Simon’s job was to try to make you move even when the command didn’t include that critical phrase. The last person still standing and [...]

Reunited and it feels so good

When the staff at my nearest Chick-fil-A started calling me by name, I knew I’d probably crossed the line from “frequent guest” into “tea addict” or “chicken stalker” status. Since I work from home, slaving away all day over a hot keyboard, I often use Chick-fil-A like my own personal kitchen – one that’s around the corner and down the street. It’s much better than my real kitchen because I’ve never once had to cook food in the Chick-fil-A kitchen, nor do they expect me to clean it up. You can see why it was so easy to fall in love, right? When Chick-fil-A launched a new smartphone app last June, my relationship with the restaurant went to a whole [...]

Out of place

It happened again. It started out as an occasional twinge of discomfort between my shoulder blades, just a little to the right of my spine. I felt it when I turned a certain way or looked over my shoulder to back out of the garage. After a day or so, the annoyance became more insistent, like a door-to-door salesman who won’t quit knocking. After hearing me grumble about it, Tom reminded me I still had a spa gift card I’d received for Christmas last year. So I scheduled an appointment, certain a massage therapist could work out the muscle spasm. As amazing as an hour on the massage table was, it only temporarily soothed that angry area of my back. [...]

Seeing the lite (brite)

I walked into a children’s museum recently and saw something that made me instantly happy. On one wall was a giant version of one of the best toys of all time – the Lite-Brite. I rushed over to pick up a giant plastic peg, put it into one of the round holes on the black wall, and watched it light up in a brilliant red. “Yes!” I said as I stood back to marvel at the sheer size of it. I was suddenly awash in every good childhood memory from the 1980s. The Lite-Brite was invented in the late 60s, and its simplicity was also its genius – a light bulb inside a plastic box with a grid on one [...]