• front porch
    Lifestyle

    Mental Health During a Pandemic

    “Are you happy?” My husband asks. I pause and think and finally say, “I don’t know. I’m not sure what that looks like anymore.” Fast forward (or rather slow forward) some months… I sit on my front porch surrounded by dirt and pots and plants. I’m focused on creating a fairy garden because I desperately need a project. Something to distract from months of stress. Months of worry about stressed-out teens. Never-ending months of worry about work and insurance and everyone’s mental health. Anxiety has been my companion for decades, but everyone has been home and inside and the weather refuses to warm up. So I sit and tinker. And…

  • Lifestyle

    Grandpa

    Dear Grandpa, I learned early this morning that you have journeyed on to whatever comes next. I keep trying to focus on work, but I keep thinking about you. I’m not sure I ever truly thanked you for your insistence that I continue to write. I still remember years ago when you encouraged me to start a blog. I thought, “If my grandpa can start a blog, surely I can too.” That little blog turned into a website. My website turned into publications. As I pursued my writing, you were there by my side. You encouraged me every step of the way as I honed my craft and it is…

  • Lifestyle

    Weight, Middle Age, and Birthday Presents

    The number on the scale is wrong. Not wrong in the sense that the scale is broken, wrong in the sense that it really bothers me and I want it to be different. I want it to be younger and less stressed. And lower. I want the number to be lower. I’ve discovered over the last few years that I have an unhealthy relationship with my scale. I’ve let it dictate my worth, my sex appeal (in my own head), and my comfort in my own body. I’ve let it boss me around. I have the same problem with the number on the tag in my pants. And I’m tired…

  • Parenting

    The Sound of Silence

    ‘Knock, knock.’ “Mom, Nick. Are you guys awake?” Blurry eyed, I stumble down to the kitchen pulling my ratty house sweater on and I greet each of my overly awake children with a mumbled ‘Good morning.’ I make coffee through sleep infested eyes, then wander the house looking for my slippers. Found, I make my way to the garage to let the pup out to potty. It’s colder than I thought and I stand shivering on the front porch while the pup takes her dear sweet time sniffing the skiff of snow that fell overnight. I wander back inside and hear the cacophony of sound that is our home when…

  • Parenting

    What Nobody Tells You About Raising Teenagers

    When my kids were all little, I looked forward to their teenage years about as much as I looked forward to a root canal. It’s one thing to make a six-year-old eat his broccoli, but it’s quite another to navigate puberty, high-school drama, and the myriad other minefields that are allsthings raising teenagers into contributing members of society. Remember those What to Expect books? There’s a reason they didn’t write one for teenagers. There’s not much of a manual for small humans, but I could impart various wisdoms on topics such as how the hell to get a kid to not completely destroy the house while you shower. I could…

  • Tomatoes in pot
    Parenting

    Mushrooms & Chicken Legs…or the Great Dinner Battle

    “What’s for dinner” is the worst thing a kid can ask. Ever. Moms all over the world hate that question. But what they hate even more is answering it. “Mushrooms in mushroom sauce over chicken legs with broccoli on top,” I say. “Nuh uh! What’s REALLY for dinner?” My favorite way to answer is with all of their least favorite foods mushed into one grotesque sounding meal. Because I’m cool like that. It’s basically the right of every mother to answer as ambiguously as possible, mostly because SOMEONE will object. And when you have 9 kiddos…it’s a good night if ONLY 1 kid objects. One of the biggest hurdles of…

  • flowers on keyboard
    Lifestyle

    Furry coworkers, books, and business…oh, my!

    The den is uncharacteristically quiet this morning. My only coworker is my husband who is also working from home today. (It’s possible we are both “working.”) The puppy has been banished to the outdoors because she thought it was a good idea to eat a couple of apricots off the ground and has the runs. The kitten and fat cat are lazily snuggled in the other room. And the children are at their other parent’s house for the weekend. Quiet. Some days when I go to work, (or walk into the den) I’m brimming with ideas and to do lists. Other days, I stare at the blinking cursor willing it…

  • Parenting

    Step-parenting 101

    Step 1: Read all the books. Step 2: Worry about how to be a good step-parent. Step 3: Fret. Step 4: Realize that no one really knows. It’s just like regular parenting only with the addition of worrying about both of your ex-spouses too. I’ve never felt as though I’m good with other people’s children. I can be tolerant for a short time, but more often than not, I find them to be annoying. (This is why I have mad respect for teachers.) I have a higher tolerance for my nieces and nephews, but if I’m being honest, they drive me a little crazy too. When becoming a step-mom became…

  • Parenting

    Sticky

    I walk into the kitchen after dropping off the littles at school and go to set down my purse only to realize the bottom is sticky. THIS must be the culprit behind my sticky arm. And my sticky armrest in the car. And the sticky something on my shorts. “Why is everything sticky?” I say out loud to an empty house. I look around at my you-can-tell-the-kids-cleaned-it kitchen and discover the source. Syrup on the kitchen table. I’m hit with a small familiar wave of overwhelm. That anxiety-ridden thought cycle I’ve had to learn to undo. It goes something like this: Everything is ALWAYS a mess Why are the kids…

  • Lifestyle

    On Leaving

    I tipped my chin towards the sunshine. My breathing came quickly. The ground moved beneath my feet. I felt every inch of my body relax and I crumbled. I stopped. Mid-run. I cried. I laughed. And I cried some more. And I knew. I knew it was the right thing to do. Walking away from my life-long belief system was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It was easily as hard as knowing divorce was the right thing to do. Anyone who thinks the leavers of religion are taking the easy way out don’t understand leaving. It redefined me in ways I couldn’t possibly understand at the time.…