To bee or not to bee: One mom’s un-bee-lievable day

Bee removal in Northwest Arkansas Last Saturday, we saw something we’ve never seen before. A large, black cloud of swarming bees appeared in our backyard, hovering over the deck like a chaotic storm. We spotted it from the kitchen window and watched as they clustered on a wood railing. About 10 minutes later, they were gone. We assumed they were just passing through on their way to the hive or wherever it is bees go. But two days later, when the construction crew showed up to continue working on the home addition we’re building, we received some alarming news. That swarm of bees didn’t just pass through. They moved in. As the builders began work, a few concerned bees emerged [...]

Naked and afraid… of barnacles

A few days ago, I locked the door and stood naked in my bathroom, ready to perform my annual spring tradition –  the head-to-toe application of self-tanning lotion. It’s a humbling, sometimes humiliating experience, even though I’m alone in the room. I have to look in the mirror to make sure I’ve applied the lotion evenly, and looking in the mirror during April makes me realize that calories consumed during winter didn’t melt away with the snow. But there’s no avoiding this seasonal rite of passage. Without self-tanning lotion, I spend the spring and summer looking like one of those scary albino fish that live at the bottom of the ocean and never see the sun. Even though I get [...]

When good girls eat bad cereal

On the morning I turned 45 last month, Tom gave me a gift right after I dropped the kids off at school. Waiting for me on the kitchen counter was a birthday card and a box of cereal bearing a familiar face I hadn’t seen in the kitchen since my 20s – Cap’n Crunch. I nearly squealed with delight. I clapped my hands, as if a great performance had just happened right there on the kitchen island. Then I had to make a decision: To eat or not to eat? After all, I’d given up sugary cereals years ago because it felt like the grown-up thing to do. But I knew Tom was trying to remind me of a simpler [...]

My iPhone is learning my life

I saw something the other day, and I’m still trying to decide if it’s cool or creepy – or both. Perhaps you can be the judge. But first, here’s the backstory. Every three weeks, I go to a meeting in a town about 25 minutes away from my house. Sometimes the meeting falls toward the end of the month or near the beginning or somewhere in the middle. The only constant thing about the meeting is that it’s always on a Thursday, and it’s always at the same place. After the meeting, my business partner and I typically have lunch. Lately, we’ve been in a soup and sandwich mood, so we’ve been going to McAlister’s Deli, which is just a [...]

Clean two closets and call me in the morning

Today was the first day of spring but no one told the sun. It was an overcast day whipped around by a cold wind, so I stayed inside and did what people are supposed to do in spring. I cleaned. But I didn’t wash windows or scrub baseboards, even though they need it. I did something I knew would be good for my soul as well as the house. I purged and containerized. We’ve lived in this house for 12 years now – longer than we’ve ever lived anywhere else. And the past dozen years have taught me that homes, much like the people who live in them, tend to put on weight over the years. They get a little [...]

Mark my words

Here’s a little fact I didn’t know until today. Puppies – like the one we brought home last summer – turn into “canine teenagers.” It can happen as soon as 4 months of age and can sometimes last until 18 months of age, depending on the breed. Do you know what that means? It means I now have THREE male teenagers in my house as well as one girl hovering in the “tween” stage. Lord, help me. During the past few weeks, 9-month-old Cooper the Corgi has gone crazy, and he’s taking me with him. Our sweet little puppy with bunny-soft fur and oversized ears has become a bigger, bossier version of himself. This new version is a lot like [...]

The stroke he forgot

Today I told my dad, for what is probably the 20th time, that the reason he’s having trouble talking is because he had a stroke. It happened on February 10th, but he doesn’t remember. He also doesn’t remember the trip to the Emergency Room or the way a team of doctors and nurses descended on him to quickly assess what had happened to him during the night. He doesn’t remember the three days in the hospital that followed. He doesn’t know that, for the first few days after the stroke, the only word he could say was “No.” He has no memory of the stroke rehabilitation center he tried to walk out of a few days later. I wish I [...]

The rigged election of 1991

Today I confess a secret I’ve kept for more than two decades. In 1991, when I was co-editor of my high school yearbook, I rigged an election – sort of. Here’s what happened. As one of the leaders of the yearbook staff, I helped count votes for the various polling we did of the senior class – decisions like “Best Dressed,” “Most Talented,” and “Class Song.” As it was nearing time for the week of voting to close, I saw that there were two songs that had pulled way ahead in the polls. One of them was the song “Don’t You Forget About Me,” by a band called Simple Minds. The other song was the Garth Brooks anthem “I’ve Got [...]

Beware of full-grown toddlers

Those of us who have survived the toddler years know a thing or two about rage because we’ve seen it up close and personal. Even though my kids are tweens and teens now, I still vividly remember that tricky stage of development. It’s not called the “terrible 2’s” because of its healthy spirit of cooperation. It’s called “terrible” because you’re basically dealing with toddler tyranny. But the good thing about a 2-year-old is that his or her tendency toward irrational rage is balanced out by the attention span of a goldfish. When my 2-year-old pitched a fit, I’d act like I was fascinated by something shiny right outside the window. Or I’d turn on a silly song and start dancing. [...]

Teenagers’ Number 1 Fear (and how to avoid the slime)

About seven years ago – before I had teenagers of my own – I got an opportunity to interview a child psychologist for an article I was writing. During the interview, I asked the doctor for tips on how parents could better relate to teenagers. What he said stuck with me: “Parents need to remember that almost all teenagers have the same number one fear, and it influences nearly everything they do and say.” “What’s the number one fear?” I asked. “Embarrassment,” he said, matter-of-factly. “They’ll do almost anything to avoid it.” It sounded simple enough at the time, and, more importantly, it rang true. I could remember being a teenager myself and thinking that a root canal without anesthesia [...]