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Essay

Photo credit: Ashraful Kadir

Strength Training: What Travel and Adventure Did For Our Family

Ten years ago, as a young couple, we lived in Germany. Our first child was born there just ten days before we wrapped her up and returned to the U.S.A.

Ten years later we found the perfect time to go back and introduce our daughter to her birthplace, and show her and her seven-year-old brother our favorite haunts.

I confess, I had hoped our kids would enjoy stepping squarely into the footprints my husband and I had left years ago. Instead, a huge dancing mess of little prints grew around the larger ones.  And not surprisingly, they insisted on making their own footprints.

They transformed our time in Germany into an adventure of conquering towers.

Any signage with “Schloss” (castle), “Feste” (stronghold), or “Burg” (fortress) sent our car careening in that direction as if driven by the giggling youth in the backseat. Without exception we would climb to the upmost height of the ruin,

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Moments

More Like the Sun Than the Sun That Day

More Liek the Sun Than the Sun That Day

It was a perfect day with a bright sun and a cool breeze. My one year old in the stroller was pointing and yelling “Ba!” at each bird, squirrel, dog, butterfly, and live creature he saw along the way.

My three and four year olds raced down the sidewalk smelling every flower they could find. “Smell

The Last Gift

The Last Gift

The last gift: grief and mourning for my granddaughter over the death of her beloved dog.

Proof Positive

Radio

Listening to an NPR show discuss the Ferguson, MO, shooting in the car this morning, my daughter asked, “Why don’t they just call people by their name? Not black or white, they have a name. I just want to know their name and if they are good people.”

The Pre-teen Shopping Wars

Photo by: Tat Schloer

I have found six key phrases to keep my pre-teen girl from buying clothing that I don’t like:

1. Wow, that is really cute! I love it! So cute!
2. Doesn’t ______ have that shirt, too? (Fill in the blank with any friend’s name or Miley Cirus.)
3. Super, they have that in my size too!
4. That reminds

Future Lawyer

Future Lawyer

I threatened to charge the kids money every time they tattled on each other this summer. My son just found $5 on the ground and said excitedly, “Now I can tattle five times!”

 

Photo credit: Cecilie Sønsteby

Too Much Stuff

Too Much Stuff

It occurred to me that if I charge the rates of a public storage facility, my adult children might come and remove their stuff. Brilliant!

Then I realized how hard it would be to get them to pay that bill. Darn it.

Empty house, full of stuff. Memories. Family. Love. A lifetime.

Photo credit: Hobvias Sudoneighm

The Perfect Anniversary Gift

The Perfect Anniversary Gift

What do you get the woman you love to celebrate 16 years of marriage? In my case, I knew the answer. There’s only one thing my wife wants more than anything else, and that’s a healthy future for our son.

Along with being a bright, energetic, playful kid with a quirky sense of humor, our son

The Worst Day of Her Life

The Worst Day of Her Life

“This is the worst day of my entire life,” my daughter sobs. Her eyes are red and tears are dripping down her cheeks.

Today someone adopted the last puppy we have been fostering for the animal shelter. Today the big beautiful tree that shaded our front yard was taken down. My daughter mourned the birds’ nests

Zombie Grandma

Photo by ankakay (https://www.flickr.com/photos/ankakay/)

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was the time (second grade) when kids try to figure out death.

“Your mom’s DEAD!” my son reminds me from the back seat. “I know,” I say. “That’s a real thing. It makes me sad.” But nothing I say changes his interest in

Let’s Play Babies!

Let's Play Babies!

Ava: “Mommy, want to play babies? You and Jack are the babies and I’m the Mommy?”

Me: “Yes, please!”

Ava: “Okay babies, time to clean up the Barbies. Mommy didn’t make this mess!”

Photo credit: Some rights reserved by Mads Boedker

And What Does Your Mother Do?

wine

We were on vacation, five people crammed into a tiny hotel room. I told the kids they needed to find something to do for a few minutes so I could shower and the husband could get the car.

“It must be hard,” my seven-year-old son said.

“What?”

“Trying to take care of yourself when you have to take

Century Old Mama

year in review clock

One of the weirder mom quotes: We were reading a story when out of the blue my six year old asked me, “Mommy have you lived for a century?”

I replied “No, that’s 100 years.” “Are you sure?” he said. “Yep, I’m sure butterbean.” (Though sometimes it feels like it.)

Tot Etiquette

lessons from toddlers

In the early years we spend plenty of time and energy teaching manners and etiquette to our little squirts.

Wash your hands–but sing the entire alphabet while doing so. What is this message we send? Don’t you ever wonder what our kids think of these signals we send? And why is it that “we” don’t sing

Yes, I’m Not Ashamed to Admit It

doughnuts

I was standing at the kitchen counter with a glass of red wine in one hand and a Krispy Kreme doughnut with Key Lime filling in the other. My husband was laughing at me. I didn’t care.

I started a new job that was full-time in the office instead of part-time at home. I was working really

Best Moment of the Year

mom and daughter

After successfully completing another big conference for moms, MomCom–this one national (whoot whoot!)–this mom finally got some free time to unwind and reconnect with her patient daughter. This is how the moment went:

My daughter as she’s putting her feet between my legs while we’re reading in bed: I’m not cold. I just haven’t seen you

I’ll Never Call Them Flip Flops Again

flip flops

My daughter was looking for some other shoes when it was warm out. I told her she could look in her closet for flip flops. “What are those?” she said. I described them. “Oh, vagina shoes,” she said.

Because, of course.

Photo by: Rudolf Vlček

Fiction from a Four Year Old

it all makes sense

My four year old eagerly absorbs myths and stories, and all of them hold equal weight. The other night she created a fiction mix that combined all the recent tales she’s taken in. It went like this:

The wicked witch took Dorothy’s dog Toto away and then the big storm came and she

Give Them the Holiday Bird

Baby's Holiday Bird

A few years ago we had an interesting experience at a major chain portrait studio where we took our first holiday pictures as a family. The photographer made a grammatical error on our holiday cards, but the biggest surprise came when we were looking at the pictures. The only picture of my

Losing My Mind

coffee

I was at Starbucks treating myself to a Latte. I managed to order above the chatter of my pack of children, then I made a fatal mistake: I added a newspaper. After getting my credit card back, I gathered the gang and walked out of the store with the paper under my

Love Makes Us Rich

Those-Who-Are-Rich-In-Love-Are-The-Richest-Of-All

 

Me: I feel really happy right now. I just wanted to tell you that.
Six-year-old son: Why are you so happy?
Me: Well, we have a safe and beautiful home, reliable cars, enough to eat and all the love we can handle. I feel like the richest woman in the world.
Son: Love is what