What’s in YOUR basket?

I have a theory that check-out clerks know a lot about people. And they don’t have to read tea leaves to do it. That long receipt tape curling out of their cash register tells them plenty. The check-out clerk is usually the second person to know a baby is on the way – the first being the woman who’s buying a home pregnancy test to confirm what her morning-sick belly already knows. Clerks also know who bakes from scratch and who pretends to. They know who needs a tube of Preparation H. They know who throws a copy of National Enquirer onto the conveyor belt at the last minute. They even know who indulges in less-than-nutritious cereal and tries to [...]

From one heat wave to another…

Sweaty greetings from the middle of a heat wave. Today I took the kids to the pool for a swim lesson and waited by the water’s edge, watching the class learn the backstroke. It was mid-morning and the temperature had already climbed to a humid 96 degrees. The wind blew hard, but it wasn’t a cool breeze. This was the hot breath of an angry dragon. The heated gusts blowing against my damp skin made me wonder if this is what it feels like to be a wet sock in a clothes dryer set on “hot” – the stifling winds buffeting you to and fro as you tumble for what feels like eternity. The only thing good about a heat [...]

Paging Dr. Mom to the O.R.

I’ve performed my first successful surgery, and the patient is recovering nicely. I didn’t want to operate but I was the only one here when 8-year-old Jack ran his hand along the wooden banister and got a splinter in his finger. Tears and wailing started immediately after. I knew the dramatic reaction wasn’t about the tiny sliver of wood lodged under the skin. It was about the fear, the panic, the dread of getting it out. I knew this because I’m the same way and always have been, which makes me wonder if phobias are as hereditary as eye color. If I had to choose between a splinter and a spider, I’d take my chances with the creepy crawler. At [...]

A Close Call

Today I’m making good on my word. Our 4-year-old cat Percy, who was named for her persistence, is sprawled out across my desk, serving as a hairy paperweight for the file folders and papers I should be working on today. Now and then she reaches out a clawless paw and takes a swipe at the cursor moving across my computer screen. It’s a technologically advanced game of “cat and mouse.” It’s funny the first few times she does it, but after an hour of the cat blocking my view of the monitor, it gets frustrating. I’ve told her many times that this is not a mouse she’s going to catch, but she doesn’t give up. But today I’m thankful for [...]

The Bucket List

Often the best conversations I have with my kids happen on the way to somewhere. I don’t remember what errand we were running when my son Adam and I had this exchange, but I’ll remember the talk for a long time. Him: “Mom, I’ve decided to write a bucket list. You know what a bucket list is?” Me: “Yes, it’s a list of things you want to do before you die. You do realize you’re only 10-years-old, right?” Him: “Yeah, I know. I just think it’ll be good to have a list.” Me: “You’re right. So what are you gonna put on your bucket list?” Him: “Well, the first thing is ‘Be on a game show.’ Either Kids Jeopardy or [...]

Welcome to my fort

My kids did something last week that convinced me they’re not all that different than kids were several generations ago. With free time on their hands and a house full of toys, games and electronics, they shunned all the fancy stuff and built a fort. Their fort-building enthusiasm made me question why we bother with apps and expensive game consoles when so much fun can be crafted from a king-sized bed sheet, wooden clothespins and a few chairs. The kids fortified their cozy castle with pillows dragged in from bedrooms, favorite Superman blankets and flashlights. Then they disappeared into the fort and played the rest of the afternoon. After hearing hours of giggles from behind the linen walls, I couldn’t [...]

The flip-flop frenzy

Recently we took the kids to an amusement park. While the boys and I rode the big stuff, Tom chaperoned Kate on kiddie rides because his stomach is less forgiving and he has a healthier respect for gravity. As the boys and I climbed onto rides and roller coasters, I noticed that there are now flip-flop storage cubbies at the front of the lines. Ride attendants announce that you should stow your flip-flops and other loose items into a cubby so you won’t lose them. Inevitably, when the flip-flop announcement was made, half the people in line slid out of their so-called shoes and tucked them into the cubbies where they would then retrieve them after the ride. Being a [...]

The Father’s Day Top Ten List

One day Tom accused me of not being able to admit when I’m wrong. I told him he was probably wrong about that, but I did take his comment under advisement. Maybe I’m a tad stubborn when it comes to admitting when my way isn’t the best way. So for a Father’s Day gift, I told Tom and my dad I’d write a list of things they’ve been right about. They looked dubious. “I’ll even publish it,” I said, taking it a step further. “And then you’ll say it’s the shortest column you ever wrote, right?” Tom asked, taking the punch line right out of my mouth. It took brutal honesty to come up with the list, but here it [...]

Letter to my middle child

Dear Jack, Eight years ago tonight, we met for the first time. I was the exhausted woman with the lovely epidural drip. You were the very red, very loud newborn who came roaring into the room at 11 p.m. You fit into my arms like a puzzle piece, and I marveled at your perfect skin and wavy hair. Your brother didn’t warm up to you as instantly as Dad and I did. He ignored you those first few months because he was only 2 years old and unimpressed when you came home and did nothing but eat, sleep and spit up on people. But one day, after several months of taking no notice of you, he walked by the baby [...]

Is downtime a dirty word?

When our daughter Kate was almost 3, I walked into the living room and caught her climbing the wall – literally. She’d scaled a wingback chair and stepped from the top onto a window ledge. Balancing on the thin strip of wood, she grabbed the window casing near the ceiling. When I spotted her, she was hanging by her fingertips, smiling widely over her gravity-defying achievement. That was the day I enrolled her in gymnastics. Right away, she loved it. Fast forward three years and thousands of cartwheels later, Kate has been asked to participate in a preliminary program for a competitive gymnastics team. They say she has a natural ability, which is something I realized that day she climbed [...]