Climb every ladder

You don’t realize how important your floors are until someone says you can’t walk on them – for a week. Unless you have a weird system of monkey bars on the ceiling of every room, living in your house while not touching the floor is impossible. That’s why most normal families pack a bag and leave home when the work crew that’s refinishing their hardwood floor says they can’t walk on it for a week. But then again, no one ever accused us of being normal. When Tom first floated this idea by me – how to stay in the house while not touching the floors – I almost dismissed it as lunacy. But the more I thought about it, [...]

I blame Roy

Yesterday I showed up at the right place, on the right day and at the right time for my kid’s doctor appointment with an allergy specialist. The only problem? I brought the wrong kid. Exasperated and more than a little embarrassed, I told the receptionist about the mix-up and asked to reschedule the appointment. She nodded knowingly and said, “I have four daughters. I totally understand.” Her understanding made me feel better for mixing up my own kids and messing up the appointment. A fellow parent knows that some days go down in a blaze of missteps. Mothers often get designated as the family’s “Rememberer-in-Chief.” There’s an underlying expectation that moms will remember not only our own to-do list and [...]

Fight, don’t freeze

My eyes were shut tight, but I could hear his approach. His guttural breathing came out slow, deep, and just loud enough to let me know he was too close. I tried to be still, but my body flinched when he grabbed my shoulders. My eyes flew open and I lunged toward him, jabbing my fingers toward his eyes. When he instinctively leaned back, I kicked – hard – between his legs. I did it again, and again, and again, pausing only long enough to keep my balance before launching another kick. He finally fell to one knee. I froze for a moment. Then I heard a woman’s voice say, “Kick the head!” I obeyed instantly and kicked his head, [...]

Do hamster balls come in extra, extra-large?

Today I flashed back about 35 years ago to a time when I went to play at a friend’s house for the afternoon. This friend had a hamster named Harry, who seemed harmless enough, except that he looked too much like a mouse on steroids. When I asked my friend what she did with the hamster besides hold it occasionally, she showed me his “exercise ball.” That’s when things got interesting. She put Harry into a transparent rubber ball, a little smaller than a volleyball, and he took off, rolling all over the room. Now and then he – or rather, his ball – would bump into a chair leg or the sofa, and he’d simply go a different direction. [...]

One day they shall sleep…

Tweens and teenagers are infamous for their not-so-pleasant qualities – the eye-rolling, the obstinance, and the way sarcasm becomes their primary language. But they don’t get enough credit for the one thing they’re great at during this stage of life – sleep. If I could give one piece of reassurance to the bleary-eyed, sleep-deprived parents of babies and little kids, it’s this: One day your kids will sleep so well that you won’t even see them emerge from their bedroom caves until the crack of noon. All the sleep you’re missing right now will be returned to you if you can just hang on until they turn 13. As a self-professed night owl who relishes the opportunity to sleep late [...]

Once upon a year…

ost people don’t like endings. They like beginnings because they’re exciting. Or they like the middle of a story, when the action is typically at its most intense. But endings are important, too. A good ending helps us appreciate the story that came before it. The lack of an end point is one of the things I find unsettling about social media. Have you ever noticed how you can endlessly scroll Facebook or Instagram and never quite find a stopping point that indicates you’ve seen it all? There’s no end to the stories, the updates, or the photos. Perhaps some people find the unending stream of new content exciting, but I find it overwhelming, exhausting. I suppose my writer-brain needs [...]

Fox and the hound

This morning as I was settling into my desk chair to begin work, our dog Cooper walked over to me with the “kill” in his mouth. I’ve seen him do this more than 100 times over the past 18 months, and by now I can perfectly translate what the look in his eyes is saying: “Let’s play fox.” I grew up with dogs and have had at least one all my adult life, except for a few years during college when dorm life prevented it. But I’ve never seen a dog get so attached to one particular toy. For Cooper, this stuffed orange fox is the equivalent of a toddler’s “lovey” or security blanket – with the primary difference being [...]

Letter to Santa (and parent helpers, too)

Dear Santa, Don’t worry. This isn’t another letter full of requests like the millions flood your North Pole mailbox each year. It’s just a quick note to see how you’re doing. Are you exhausted? Because I am, and I’m only prepping the holiday for three kids – unlike you who are taking care of these three plus every other kid on the planet. Even for a magical being like you, that can’t be easy. I mean, sure, you have the flying sleigh. That’s got to be faster than standing in line at airport security and then waiting an impossibly long time for your group number to be called just so you can shuffle onto a packed airplane, like cattle with [...]

Stitch in time

I don’t often write “follow-up” columns, mostly because life moves quickly, and I can barely remember what I wrote about last week, much less several months or years ago. But I’m making an exception today because I’ve learned something new that feels worthy of an update. In addition to my current job titles as wife, mother, daughter, writer, driver of kids, cleaner-upper, grilled cheese maker, pet feeder, grocery shopper, appointment scheduler and gift wrapper, I’m now proud to report that I am also a knitter. About six months ago, I wrote a column about how I couldn’t quite shake this urge to learn how to knit, despite a busy schedule that insisted I had a million other things to do [...]

20 secrets to the 20-year wedding anniversary

Last weekend, Tom and I went out to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. An acquaintance we bumped into said congratulations and then asked us “So what’s the secret?” Honestly, I didn’t have a quick answer. She seemed almost annoyed, as if we were keeping the secret recipe all to ourselves. So, I gave it some thought these past few days and made a list of 20 “secrets” we’ve learned during these past 20 years. Choose well. I’m listing this one first because, without it, the rest of the secrets might not matter. “Fixer Upper” is a hit television show, not a smart strategy for choosing a spouse. Be kind. This one is vital. Yes, your spouse should still love you [...]