Category: life goes on

Naked and Afraid in Amsterdam

“Mama, why is that lady in the window naked?”

This is not one of my proudest parenting moments. Being a savvy traveler, living overseas, I consider myself fairly street wise and seasoned. We spent a week in the Netherlands wandering the tulips at Keukenhof, seeing the windmills in Kinderdijk and watching pottery hand-painted in Delft.

Our pièce de résistance would be the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam.

I’d spent two weeks prior to our visit to the Netherlands preparing our daughter to see the Anne Frank House. She’s only six, so I kept the discussion fairly simple but direct: “There were bad people, called Nazis, and they didn’t like certain people here. They took them to concentration camps and treated them badly. Some of them hid, one of them was Anne Frank and her family.”

Our daughter was fascinated with the idea that a little girl was hiding from “bad guys” in a secret

This is What the Oregon Trail Prepared Me For

Photo: Lovelorm Poets

Day 07 of the fever sickness. It’s not the sickness but the isolation that will get you.

Nina has definitely had some flashes of being out of touch. I can only hope she will regain her social identity and leave this behind at some point. She has taken to pulling out hair (first from my head

Right Place, Wrong Time

It’s the end of the 4th quarter and we’re losing the football game, but not by much.

The Coach calls an obscure play, “The Wedge.” While it may sound like a salad, you know it’s a football play because your son has talked about it.

The Quarterback hands off the ball to your son, to run it in, for the greatly needed six points! YOUR SON!!! The fans (parents and grandparents, all) are cheering from the bleachers!

A win against the Middle School down the block is within our grasp. Because YOUR SON has the ball. The very ball he has never touched in the six years of playing football, except to snap it to a boy named SOMEONE ELSE’S SON. The ball your Other Son never touched in HIS nine years of playing football, except when he tackled the boy who did have the ball, also named SOMEONE ELSE’S SON, and then

Why We Should All Have Seven Kids

I’m in early morning boot camp class when the instructor, Karen, finds out that Chrissy, one of the women in the class, has seven kids. Karen’s obvious shock and massive self-editing effort were fun to witness.

Karen wanted to say: “Are you kidding me? Did you have seven kids on purpose? Do you know about birth control? Are you part of a fundamentalist church? What is your husband like? Are you OK? Do you need help? Do you have your own reality TV show? Are you kidding me?”

Karen’s editing was only partially successful, leading to several mildly inappropriate questions. Chrissy was gracious. She was used to this response.

Then another woman in the class said she saw Chrissy with all of her seven kids at the grocery store recently. She said  Chrissy’s kids were not complaining, hitting each other, asking to buy something, demanding attention or getting lost. Chrissy said, “Well, they

A New Story

Dumpster diving. Not how I like to spend my time. Especially not when the dumpster is next to the Harvard Club of Boston parking lot.

Dressed in black leggings and a Fire Department of New York tee-shirt with the words, KEEP BACK 200 FEET, on the back, I look the part. I’m wearing this paint-spattered get-up because I am in Boston painting my daughter’s apartment on Commonwealth Avenue. Poking around in the dumpster, using a long curtain rod that I had thrown out the day before, is not a day at the races. I could get arrested. This is not legal. Yet I am determined to stay the course and do what it takes to find the missing Piglet, age 19.

“Where’s Peebet?” were my daughter’s first words when we returned from dinner at Dillon’s.

“Oh, I’m sure he’s fallen under your bed,” was my response. I was exhausted, having fought a losing

Just A Trip To The Corner Store

I woke up this morning looking forward to a cold glass of Pepsi. It’s my one addiction. When I opened the fridge I realized someone else had already been into the Pepsi and there was only one flat mouthful left.


Wait–we could make a quick run to the store for Pepsi.

Then I looked around. The baby was sleeping, the girls were still in pajamas, both with dirty faces, and the car seats weren’t in the car. It wasn’t worth the hassle of getting everyone ready and fighting with the car seats for the three-minute drive to the store.

I decided that the last mouthful of Pepsi would have to do until my husband could bring more home, and I started my long to-do list for the day.

Half an hour later, attempting to find the dirty laundry, I walked into the bathroom. My recently toilet trained daughter must have just been in there.

Why Inappropriate Laughter is the Best Kind

Twenty eight hours ago, I was saved by laughter.

I was holding my dog on a leash in the freezing cold, spraying hydrogen peroxide down her throat. Before you call the ASPCA, let me explain.

Twenty eight hours ago, my dog consumed half of a Mississippi mud cake, made with pure cocoa. As soon as I found the evidence (or lack thereof), I called my little brother, a vet in California, for advice. He said, “You need to make her vomit. A lot.”

He told me how to do it and as soon as my husband got home from work, I went outside with my supplies and my oldest son, hoping to prevent a visit to the local emergency vet.

And right there, in the middle of the yard, watching my dog empty her stomach, I was completely hysterical.

To say that yesterday was a hard day would be an understatement. After having been up

7 Things I Want To Tattoo On My Teen Daughter

I have a teen daughter. There are certain phrases and warnings I would like to have permanently inked on her. Some of them are for others to see so she can avoid situations she is not prepared to handle, and some are for her, so maybe I won’t have to repeat the same five phrases over and over again anymore.

1. Underage!
This goes on her forehead where every male over the age of 10 can see it clearly. I see the way they look at her. She doesn’t seem to notice much yet, but when she puts on a bikini in the summer she stops traffic at the beach–I have seen it happen. She can have the tattoo removed when she is 30; I’ll even pay for it.

2. Look Up
This is a reminder that once in awhile she needs to look away from the screen, take her headphones out of her

A Mother in Medical Land

For a long time I didn’t want to have kids. I felt I was too selfish.

My husband and I loved exploring together. We lived for ourselves, best friends taking on the world. Then we thought it was “time” to have a baby.

When I saw the two lines indicating I was pregnant, I sat on the floor, tears streaming down my face, thinking “What have I done?” Our lives changed forever in many ways.

I anticipated what a baby would bring to our lives.

Preparing the baby’s room, picking colors. How would I carry the baby, in a carrier or a pram? What sort of car seat, what mothers’ group or play dates? I thought of watching my child meet milestones, learn to sit up, crawl and eat.

I didn’t anticipate being alone in the first weeks after my baby was born. I told myself it would be okay, that it’s not as bad as

Cowie Comes Home for Christmas

My daughter was three when she fell hard for a little black-and-white stuffed cow. Sadie and Cowie went everywhere together. To school and the park. To restaurants and birthday parties. At Disneyland, Sadie bombed down the Matterhorn clutching Cowie. At night, she slept with Cowie tucked under her chin.

We don’t know any Scottish people. But through Sadie, Cowie channeled a delightful brogue and a sassy personality. I got used to hearing her chuckle first thing in the morning and soon found myself talking to her like she was a member of the family.

“What do you want for breakfast, Cowie?”

“Me Cowie wants chocolate!” was the standard reply.

One day, a few weeks before Christmas, when Sadie was five, Cowie vanished.

She was with us when we stopped at Starbucks, cheerily informing the barista that the milk for my latte came from her udders. But when we pulled into our driveway, Cowie was gone.


Thank You Stepmothers

To all stepmothers. Well, most, because some of you really may be wicked, but for the rest of you, those just beginning your role, those who have been doing it for years and those who put in the time and continue to be an endearing part our lives:

Thank you.

Thanks for not running for the hills when I glared at you like you were a monster. I was just confused, scared and shell shocked. Here was some strange woman coming into my life at a time when I didn’t know who to trust in my own house. And man, I didn’t make your job easy, that’s for sure. But you hung in there. And now look at us, we can laugh about it. Right?

Thanks for loving me. After all, I was just extra baggage that came with that man you were dating. You didn’t have to be so nice to me

Candy Land 101: A Preschooler’s Practicum on Justice

“But I want to go straight ahead!” my four-year-old daughter wailed, slamming her blue plastic doughboy back to the top of the cheerful, winding path on the Candy Land game board.

Stella had just drawn the ice cream card, immediately followed by the gingerbread man card. Anyone who’s played the game will understand that this is the cruelest fate one can suffer while tramping around the kingdom of the Lollipop Woods and Gumdrop Mountains.

A tantrum was most definitely in order.

Being a child of the 70’s and 80’s myself, I could vividly recall that feeling of utter injustice aroused by drawing the gingerbread man late in the game, or landing on the boy who breaks the cookie jar in Chutes and Ladders. Even worse was being on the losing end of a contentious game of Sorry. In that sadistic rite of passage, a lucky roll of the dice would turn your

Stepping Off the Parent Treadmill

Ever since having children, I’ve felt like I’m on a treadmill: getting through the days, trying to keep up with who needs what when (usually: everyone, all the time), all the while wondering what this is for, how it really works, and, of course, if I’m doing it right.


My Kids Hate My Pancakes (and I’m OK with that)

Maybe it’s living in the age of social media, where everyone puts only her best foot forward. We see posts and updates and subconsciously can feel a need to make our own lives look as nice and neat and tied-up-with-a-bow as what we see from all these friends, relatives and… “friends.”

I know I can be guilty of feeling this way.

Recently, I started a blog. I wanted to make a post of a new, easy little recipe I had heard about and take pictures of us making it, cooking it, and my kids joyfully eating what I, mother extraordinaire, had whipped up for breakfast. (I was feeling very proud of myself in advance.)

Saturday morning, I made the concoction (banana + egg = pancake, basically), and took pics along the way. I swished into the family room like Donna Reed, proudly setting the plates down and picking up my phone to start

Please Don’t Ask Me That

“So when are you having another one?”
“It must be time to give [insert child’s name] a brother or sister!”
“Now you just need a [insert opposite sex of what your child is].

I know they mean well. The people who ask, “So when are you having another one?” They don’t see the knife turn a little more. They don’t know. It’s not that I don’t want “another one.” I do. I do with every fiber of my being.

In fact, we did try for another baby. Our daughter was almost eighteen months old. It was nine months past when I had told my husband I would entertain the idea of a second child. I jokingly told him it takes nine months to make a baby, please give me at least nine months to recover. I made the appointment with my midwife to have my IUD removed.

We had

Dead Birds

I knew something was up as soon as I slid open the back door, a wave of cold air against my face while the heat still radiated against my back.

Peter Parker, our adopted shelter terrier, looked sheepish. Instead of running and jumping on my just-home-from-school six year old, the dog lay on the carpet, four legs splayed out.

I looked around for what naughtiness he’d left while we’d been away. Nothing obvious: no knocked over trash cans, half licked up piles of doggy puke, or brown streaks in corners. Maybe the dog just missed us, I thought, and stopped worrying.

The kindergarten puts in a solid ten minutes on homework and then hits play time: Legos. I turn on the light in his room and notice something amiss. Over there, near the edge of the bunkbed. What is that? I think, actually making a quizzical look though no one can see me.

Rock Bottom

A classic rock-bottom moment for me was when our small city condo was on the market.

At the time, I had a newborn and an 18 month old. Our condo was overflowing with a ridiculous amount of cribs, jumperoos, swings, bottle warmers, and a ton of other critically important baby paraphernalia. Our realtor was appalled. “It smells like baby in here!” she’d snap, spraying her lavender air freshener in our faces. “You’ve got to get that baby smell out of here!”

We’d watched the boring buy-a-house shows. We knew how important it was to stage the place. Each showing was painful. After frantically cleaning and stashing items for a few hours while carrying around a toddler and a newborn, I felt like my arms would fall off.

It was tough, but we did have it down to a science. Boy, our system worked. All it took was that text, “showing at 1:00,” and

Lice of the Party

“You still have a fever. You can’t go to the party.”

“But daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad, daaaaaaaaaaaaaady, everyone will be there. It’s my first sleepover party. You’re so mean. I’m never talking to you again!”

And so it goes. Back and forth between mom and dad, trying to drive a wedge between resolute (wife) and wavering (dad), my highly motivated, high-fevered daughter is turning up the heat, doing anything and everything to get herself to that sleepover. Even if her parents separate, divorce and reconcile all in the same night.

But we hold firm, barely. And so she goes to sleep overwrought, and over medicated with bubble gum-flavored Motrin®. Today’s battle won, we go to sleep ready for the tests and tribulations that come with the perils and pitfalls of tween parenting.

Cells buzzing, phones ringing, we are awoken to a cacophony of sound. Someone is sounding the alarm and we rise to the reverie of suburban

Born Different

My daughter is three and half years old and a tiny tornado of love, laughter, and light. She can count to 10, and she knows her ABC’s by sight. Some people are surprised that she knows her colors, but I’m not. She knew those first. Her absolute favorite things in life are Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, her dad’s iPad, and Pharrell’s hit single “Happy.” She can dance like nobody’s business.

Her name is Dorothy, and she has Down syndrome.

I try to tell people how cool she is, but if I mention the words “Down syndrome,” I get a lot of looks that imply sadness or even pity. I can’t understand these reactions anymore. Dorothy really is cool. Her therapists tell me she is especially fun. Her school teacher loves her to death, and I can’t blame her.

Every time we walk into a doctor’s waiting room, she runs up to the nearest seated

Crooked Love

I was born crooked.  I was a C-section baby, and the oxygen apparatus did not work in the delivery room, so the doctor had to give me mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to save my life. The time without oxygen must have caused the Cerebral Palsy brain damage.  My whole left side was affected: smaller, weaker, crooked left arm and leg.

When Evan, my youngest son, at age five asked me, “Momma, are you handicapped?”  The query caught me off-guard, but I calmly answered, “Well, yes, I suppose I am.”  He accepted this fact, then thoughtfully added,“ But you’re just a lil bit handicapped, right?”

So I feel fortunate that I’m “just a lil’ bit” affected by C. P., yet I am still always aware of my crooked self.

So how ironic is life when three years ago Casey, my middle son, had a