Soup salvation

This morning was one of those mornings. I woke up with the kind of headache that’s just annoying enough to keep me slightly on edge. I went through the usual routine – dropped the kids off at school and then started the day’s work. But my to-do list kept getting longer. And the caffeine and ibuprofen I swallowed at breakfast didn’t shake the headache. There were so many emails with so many questions and deadlines, and I had nothing – no answers, no completed tasks. It was the kind of morning that makes you want to crawl under the bed and hide from the world. Instead, I did the next best thing and went to lunch. During the drive to [...]

Salad Fatigue

A few days ago, my friend Shannon and I went to lunch. In an attempt to change our ways and counterbalance the sugar-laden excesses of the holidays, we ordered salads. When the waiter brought them to the table, we marveled at the Olympic-size salad bowls. Even during lunch, a salad is a big event in modern America. Do restaurants give us huge salads because they feel sorry for us? Or do they give us an entire field of greens because they need an excuse to charge the same amount we’d pay if we were having a plate full of pork chops? (Something tells me it’s the second reason, but that’s not the point.) The point is that these super-sized salads [...]

Bossy bikini pushers

I’m a planner by nature, so I understand the need to “get out in front” of something. But when I opened the Target sales circular this Sunday, the only words that came to mind were these: “This is ridiculous.” Two pages past the Valentine’s Day candy, there it was – a splashy double-page spread of models in swimsuits. Swimsuits! In January! The Christmas fruitcake hasn’t even had time to get moldy yet, and already they’re pushing stringy two-pieces for her and Hawaiian board shorts for him. In the wise words of my elementary school crossing guard, “Slow down, people.” What’s the rush? Perhaps I’m missing something. Has it become a tradition to watch the Super Bowl in beachwear? Am I [...]

Digital memory lane

If you’re on Facebook or save digital pictures online, you probably get the same emails I do – the ones that show photo memories taken on the same calendar date several years ago. Last week I got an email with photos of our youngest when she was only 3-years-old. She was outside playing in one of her first big snowfalls. There’s a picture of her bundled up in a puffy pink coat with a fur-trimmed hood, beaming at the camera with her bright blue eyes and cheeks tinged pink from cold. She was lying down in the snow while her dad moved her arms and legs to teach her the correct snow angel technique. The only thing I don’t like [...]

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, [...]

Thunderstruck

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 [...]