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 [...]

Blazing the Texting Trail

For generations, parents have been taking note of first steps, first words, and first days of school. But today’s parents also witness a whole new breed of “digital firsts” that our great, great grandparents could never have even imagined. I saw a “digital first” today for two of our three kids. I picked up my iPhone to check email and noticed it was covered in smudgy fingerprints, which means one of the kids had been playing with it – probably launching angry birds at innocent cartoon pigs. But when I slid the phone’s unlock bar open, a screen popped up showing a text message trail between our 10-year-old son and his 8 year-old brother. For the record, our kids don’t [...]

The Rejection Letter

Today I got a rejection letter for a book manuscript. It hurt. It wasn’t the first one and won’t be the last, but it still hurt. I keep waiting to develop the thick skin all the writing advice books say you need to survive in this business, but mine feels as tender as ever. Wounded pride and self-doubt spring eternal. I should have done a better job hiding the hurt from the kids, but they burst into my room to tell me about the new level they reached on their computer game and the tears and the red, sniffly nose were too obvious. “What’s wrong, Mom?” Jack asked. “It’s nothing, Jack. I’ll be okay,” I said. “Don’t you want to [...]

The Dream Car

Now that our oldest son has officially hit double-digits in age, he’s thinking of his future – his driving future. His sixteenth birthday is still six years away (thankfully), but suddenly cars are very cool. “Mom, I decided what kind of car I want when I’m 16,” he announced recently at dinner. “That’s great, Adam. But you do realize you’ll have to save up your own money, right? Whatever you save up, Dad and I will match it and we’ll use that money to buy a used car,” I said. “Yeah, I know,” he said. “The two cars I like best are the Ford Focus and the Ferrari.” “A Ferrari?” I asked. “As in Ferrari, the sports car?” “Yep, that’s [...]

The Sissy Versus the Snake

The snake sighting in our yard had been haunting me. Every time I stepped outside, I scanned for signs of it – the way wary beach goers check the water for signs of a shark fin. Then two weeks ago I was home alone with the dogs. Our beagle Charlie got restless so we headed out to the backyard for his potty break. As we hit the bottom of the steps, Charlie ran off to the left and I went right. That’s when I saw it – and froze. Another two steps forward and I would have been right on top of a 3-foot-long snake. The beast was black with red and yellow stripes. As I sprinted for safety, my [...]