Reporting from Lovely London

Despite what you may have heard on the playground, London Bridge is not falling down. In fact, it’s quite sturdy. I know this because I rode over London Bridge in a taxi – one of many things I did last week during summer vacation. This trip was a lucky turn of events. Tom had a business conference scheduled initially for California that was suddenly moved to London. He suggested I fly over to meet him there after his meetings so we could add a short vacation to the end of his trip. It was a rare chance for both of us to see London while only paying for one airfare. (We ditched our kids and told them to take care […]

Gag me with a bowl

My last baby was born more than 17 years ago. I remember because I gagged nearly every day for nine months before she made her entrance into the world. I gagged when I opened my eyes in the morning. My stomach lurched when I brushed my teeth. I heaved at the smell of food, but I also gagged for no reason at all. A lovely spring breeze, a TV commercial for roofing, and even a simple yawn could double me over. But that was a long time ago, and I thought I was done with that. I was wrong. But this time, it’s not a human baby and a flood of hormones triggering my gag reflex. This time around, it’s […]

What Disney needs now

Disney executives are smart. We know this because they’ve created a destination called “the happiest place on Earth.” Disney’s Magic Kingdom is North America’s most visited theme park, drawing more than 16 million people toward Cinderella’s Castle each year. I was one of those people just a few weeks ago when Tom and I took our two college boys and a high school girl to Orlando to celebrate her recent graduation. We didn’t stay long because a few people in our family (raising my hand) could only tolerate the big crowds and long lines for a couple of days. But I was there long enough to figure out what Disney truly needs — an interstate. Why should there be an […]

From diapers to diplomas

On May 17th, exactly 33 years after I graduated high school, my baby girl turned her graduation tassel, too. Her service dog Mac, dressed in a matching cap and gown, trotted along beside her as she crossed the stage to receive her diploma. They both graduated with honors, and Mac received the “seal of biliteracy” on his diploma because he is fluent in understanding both dogs and humans. So, it’s official, my friends. The three kids I’ve written about for more than 20 years are now high school graduates. And that means Tom and I will have three kids in college by this fall. (Send prayers and lottery tickets.) I didn’t cry when Kate’s older brothers graduated high school. When […]

Sleeping Beauty is a lie

Sleep is beautiful. But the physical act of sleeping isn’t. That’s why I roll my eyes during rom-com movies when the man wakes up early (yeah, right) to gaze adoringly at the woman he loves while she sleeps. Little does he know that she’s not sleeping. She’s acting. She’s doing her best impression of Sleeping Beauty from a Disney movie she watched in the 80s. And she knows he’s watching. It’s not dreamland. It’s deliberate posing. She probably woke up an hour ago to brush her teeth and hair before silently slipping back into bed so she’d be ready for this princess-perfect performance. But here in the real world, when the cameras aren’t rolling and the handsome prince isn’t watching, […]

Don’t let it bug you

Welcome to the year of the bug. We’re just in time to witness two giant broods of cicadas rising from the ground like a horde of zombie bugs. How many zombie bugs? Definitely billions. But most likely trillions. There’s no official tree-to-tree cicada census, so it’s hard to be sure. But we’re sure they’re here because they’re loud – so loud that some people have called the police to make noise complaints about the roaring, whining sound that scientists say registers at about the same decibel level as a lawnmower or a jet flying overhead. No matter how noisy it gets, police can’t do anything about it. There’s not enough departmental funding to buy teeny tiny cicada handcuffs that only […]

Put a name to a fuzzy face

Those yellow-bellied dusty devils are at it again. They’ve launched their annual full-scale attack, and no amount of antihistamines can stop them. If you’re whipping tissues out of the box faster than a Wild West gunslinger, you’re not alone. My whole family has been doing it for weeks. All of us, even the dogs, have to line up for a daily Zyrtec. We do regular snorts of allergy nasal spray. And it’s all because of the catkins. Let me formally introduce you to a meddling little menace you’ve probably seen for years but never knew its name. Catkins are those fuzzy, yellowish-brown strings that fall from trees each spring, usually in April. At first glance, you might mistake a catkin […]

The denim debacle

As losses go, this isn’t a big one. I shouldn’t even care. Still, I’m sad about it. It’s hard to accept that the best jeans in my closet – and possibly the world – are on their last threads. At least nothing tragic happened. By all measures, the jeans lived a good, long life. They’re dying of natural causes — namely, years of use and the friction of putting one leg in front of the other thousands of times. All those steps have led to an unfortunate hole. Why would I say goodbye to my favorite jeans over a harmless hole? Don’t some people pay crazy money for new jeans with gaping holes? Well, yes, they do. Deliberately “distressed” jeans […]

What to do when you really don’t wanna do the work

I’m lucky that my first professional writing job was in a newsroom because it taught me something important: You don’t need a perfect environment to get work done. You don’t need silence, an organized room, a particular candle, or a big chunk of time. The newsroom was loud, messy, and full of 20 or more people, with at least a half dozen conversations happening at any one time. The old-school phones sitting on each person’s desk rang all the time. We had a police scanner that jabbered and crackled day and night. And the staccato clickety-clack of keyboards was randomly interrupted by the pop and hiss of a dozen Dr. Peppers cracking open before a deadline. Yet somehow, we managed […]

Bird on bird violence

Two days ago, while sitting at my desk attempting to be a productive human, a noise broke my focus and nearly broke my window, too.  The third “donk” against the glass made me look up from my monitor, expecting to find a tree branch bumping the window. Instead, I came eye to beady eye with a bird flying straight at me. Of course, he didn’t get close because we were separated by glass – a fact he seemed painfully unaware of.  When he donked into the glass a fourth and fifth time, I got up to look closer, but he kept plowing head-first into the invisible wall. After each impact, he fell to the window ledge below, shook off the […]