The Writing Mamas Daily Blog

Each day on the Writing Mamas Daily Blog, a different member will write about mothering.

If you're a mom then you've said these words, you've made these observations and you've lived these situations - 24/7.

And for that, you are a goddess.

Saturday, January 31, 2009


A Mother's Worst Nightmare

There’s a cold dark place you go when you can’t find your child. I went there once. This isn’t the run of the mill can’t pick out your kid’s head bobbing in the pool, can’t sift through all the hooded toddlers at the park, just focused on a sale rack for a second and now you’re on your hands and knees at Nordstrom.

This is an all hands on deck, EVERYBODY is looking and minutes are ticking by and your toddler is GONE. This is when someone gently leads you to a room so you can scream while they hold you.

I stepped into the Toddler Room to pick up my two-year old son and in the scramble for lunch boxes and hanging up of jackets, I couldn’t see where he might be. The afternoon kids were settling in for lunch and the hip-height chaos was all around me.

A few seconds passed before I could move into the room and peek around the corner to the area where I usually found him painting. Not there. His teacher saw my questioning look and helped me search. She opened the door to the outside play area, asking several parents and teachers if they had seen him.

In seconds, the entire school was in lock-down mode with all able bodies calling his name and looking in the garden, upper school, kitchen, parking lot, office. This is when it became cold and dark, and I was led by the elbow into an office. I remember screaming for someone to call 911.

Parents and teachers had begun looking in the creek that runs behind the school and were fanning out into the neighborhood when a local resident came out of her house and asked if we were looking for the little boy she had in her arms. He had slipped out the gate in the back of the school and disappeared up a flight of stairs leading to the Homestead Valley Community Center.

Like Popeye’s Sweetpea, skirting disaster at every turn, he had gone past the pool, through a parking lot with a blind driveway, along Montford, a typical Mill Valley neighborhood street with no sidewalk or shoulder, across the road, and up this neighbor’s steep driveway. The fact that he wasn’t run down by an SUV was a miracle in itself.

Ten years have passed since that day, and the two preschool teachers have since retired and moved away. I send them both a Christmas card each year and get one in return. I know they went to their own cold dark place that day, too.

By Mary Allison Tierney

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Friday, January 30, 2009


What's Write About Life

I am a mother who writes.

I steal precious slices of time away from the demands of my life to practice my craft. Last week, I had planned for a rare two-hour writing session by plopping my six-year-old in front of the otherwise forbidden TV.

Just as my fingers had touched the keyboard, my eleven-year-old son tore breathlessly into the room. It was his turn to bring a snack to his sixth grade class. He had told me two weeks earlier, but I had forgotten. I considered ignoring the matter altogether, but then I remembered the promise. I made it the last time it was our family’s turn to bring snack. I had used it as an opportunity to create a “healthy” dish. I made cookies out of whole wheat flour and rice bran. The result was a platter of brown blobs that tasted like baseballs. My son returned home that evening humiliated. He begged me to make “normal” cookies next time it was our turn.

And I promised I would.

Now it was time to make good on the promise. And it was also time to write. So I did both, moving from the computer to the kitchen counter. Later, as the cookies cooled and my attention had moved fully to the essay I was writing, my six-year-old plopped into the chair next to my desk. He sighed, signaling he had something on his mind. “What?” I yelled, angry at yet another interruption. “Mom?” he said, with a quiver in his chin. “What does ‘dead’ mean?”

My fingers froze above the keyboard. I turned toward my son and saw in his face a child’s curiosity – and a little worry. I smiled to myself, clicked off the computer and surrendered.

Sometimes you have to stop writing about life and just live it.

by Laura-Lynne Powell

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Undercover Secrets From a Mother Trying to Hide

Making the bed is a metaphor for my life.

If I make it -- the day will go well. If I don’t -- bad things can happen.

I make my bed.

Since I can’t reach my son’s top bunk bed, I leave it undone. But I figure that since it’s up so high, I get a metaphoric pass.

I stop in front of my daughter’s bed. Her Hello Kitty! sheets and blanket are askew.

The bed must be made.

I arrange her stuffed animals at the end, tuck the sheets tight into hospital corners and take care to evenly spread the blanket.

As I sit on top of the bed, near the headboard, this is where the sheets and cover really need to be evened out.

But I am overcome with the thought that rather than make them, I want to go under them.

I don’t have time for this. I have too many things to do. This is too much of an indulgence.

I lie on the bed and tuck the covers all around me up to my neck, and then I draw them over my head.

This is nice.

I have time alone. Nobody knows I’m here. I don’t have to deal with my son not doing his homework. I don’t have to explain to my daughter why I won’t buy her something/anything new. I don’t have to tell my husband why it was necessary for me to buy Orgins skincare products from Nordstrom's rather than ones at Walgreens. I don’t have to throw the ball to my cat. I don’t have to worry about my cancer. I don’t have to answer the phone. I don’t need to return e-mails. I don’t have to feel guilty about not writing.

I -- can -- just – be.


Or maybe I can’t.

“Why are you under the bed like that?” my daughter, Mimi, says. “Are you hiding!”


“Can I climb in with you?” she asks but doesn’t wait for an answer. Together we snuggle, in the dark, under the covers.

“I like to hide,” she says.

I do, too, but when you’re a mother -- it's not often that you get the chance.

By Dawn Yun

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Thursday, January 29, 2009


Mother Finds Religion, Along with Dirty Laundry

“Maybe she’s practicing for the Rapture,” I think, picking my way across the house from one pile of discarded clothing to the next.

I envision her spontaneous uplift into the heavens, leaving all worldly possessions behind, including socks, underwear and crumpled dirty Kleenex.

That’s how I deal with my daughter’s messiness. It sure beats the daily temptation to shout at her for being such a slob.

Then she went away to college. Now I can cross a room without tripping, allowing a guest to use the bathroom without embarrassment. Sure, I miss her, but I have to admit that having a clean house eases the loss considerably.

Before I know it, she’s home for mid-term break.

“I brought my dirty laundry,” she cheerfully announces, emptying a bulging duffel bag into the hamper. Soon every surface is littered with stuff and piles of clothing sprout all over the floor.

It’s rapturous to have her home again.

By Lorrie Goldin

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009


A Full-Time Working Mother IS a Good Mother

I am a full-time preschool teacher, and a single mom.

One of my favorite things about my job is that warm and fuzzy feeling I get because I am doing something good for others; contributing to my community I live in by teaching its smallest members the basics of life.

What can be more rewarding?

Yet, my altruistic bubble was burst the other day by my seven-year old son’s comment, “Mom, I wish you had some other kind of job, so that you are not all done playing when you get home.”

He pretty much nailed it.

My work typically consists of eight hours per day of the following, in no particular order: playing, finger painting, singing, cutting and gluing, reading, hugging and laughing. Of course, there is also curriculum planning, graduate student-teachers supervising (we are a lab school for graduate-level students), talking to irate parents and cleaning up all the artsy messes.

When I get home after five p.m., I’ve had enough of kids. On most nights, this upbeat, energetic and fun teacher turns into a surly-burly mom. And this is the mom my son is stuck with. I am just not a very fun mom.

Most of my friends who work outside of the house spend their days in front of a computer monitor, communicating with other adults in proper complete sentences and with outstanding vocabulary.

I get to teach language arts to four-year olds using puppets and songs. My corporate world friends’ ideas of a great, relaxing weekend often include combining several other families of kids for a game of basketball, or having a noisy kid-filled pizza party in their backyard.

I usually want to find the most secluded spot at the beach and read or write, while Alex is playing in the sand by me.

Their ideas of weekend relaxation are often my ultimate weekend nightmare. It just feels like work. I try to justify myself thinking how would all these moms/execs feel if I made them sit in front of a laptop in a contained environment droning through endless spreadsheets on their weekend?

And, yet, sometimes I am worried sick. I love being a teacher, but will my son resent me for not having enough “kid-time” left in me by the time I get to be with him? 

I know I am a good teacher. 

Am I a good mom, too?

By Svetlana Nikitina

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Potential Havoc! Mom's Sick!!!

“Whoa,” is my immediate response. I hesitate after this initial jolt and then pull up again, trying to lift my heavy throbbing head off the wet pillow.

My condition shouldn’t have been a surprise. After all I’d been up throughout the night gasping for water and trying to double up the blankets around my shivering frame.

I blink back at the clock, trying to register the urgency of getting up after five snooze alarms. My throbbing head cradles the pillow, which feels like a rock rubbing a sore. You’ve got to get the kids ready for school. You’ve got to get the kids ready for school. It registers: a checklist of actions dart across my numb brain. The recognition of how impossible actual racing through the morning is also registers, and compels me to try again.

Ooof, up I go, the motion seems to pull against the front of my skull, forcing my eye socket tendons tight against my brain, while a cascade of soreness ripples down my body.

On and on I stagger to my robe, to a sweater I hastily pull on top of the robe. Still shivering. Down the stairs. Ow, ow, ow to the kitchen where I stumble about pulling cereal cartons down and start laying out lunch boxes.

There should be a Mom Medal of Courage given at times like this when it takes every will of your being to press on.

“Mom, are you OK?” my nine-year old cautiously inquires as she skips down the stairs.

“No, I’m sick,” a throaty bark returns back. Her eyes widen.

All three children now eye me from the table. One of them decides to test the waters by beginning to tease another. It’s all I can do to manage a deep, “Don’t you dare. Not today. I am sick.” Little bodies retract in their seats and quietly finish their Cheerios.

This impact doesn’t get past me and I realize I’d better use it to my necessary advantage. "Mom’s sick today guys,” I begin haltingly. “You need to step up and help. I need help. After breakfast you need to. . . COUGH! COUGH!. . . put your dishes in the sink and go upstairs to get dre. . . COUGH! COUGH! … dressed. You need to help.”

And in an amazing fluid turn of events -- they do. Quietly, helpfully, swifly. . . obediently.

With time to spare they pile into the car without so much as a tease or a defiant standoff (the three-year old’s morning modus operandi).

On the drive, as I squint painfully past my headache to the street ahead, I hear William say that he is going to make me a get-well card. Lauren chimes in that she will, too, and that they will all make one together as well. Interjected in this loving conversation are hopes and wishes that I feel better. And soon.

Huge hugs at drop off at the elementary school and preschool, and I stagger home with the realization I have a rare almost three hours before pickups begin. I pull back on pajamas over tender skin and collapse into bed, weakly doubling up the blankets around me.

For a brief few hours I will get to do what dads do when they’ve been walloped by the flu. I will get to stay in bed and just sleep.

By Maija Threlkeld

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Monday, January 26, 2009


Children! Call Home

I am getting my first grader a cell phone. Before you throw your hands up and scream in horror, I am doing this because of the absolute, cold terror that I experienced when she didn’t get off her school bus the other day.

It turns out she was busy talking to her friend – explaining how important she is in the grand scheme of things or something to that effect and didn’t notice the stop.

When she realized she had missed her stop, she promptly and calmly told the driver, who being a sub that day did not know to immediately inform the school so they could let me know.

So there I was at the stop, certainly not behaving as calm as my child was at that very moment, calling the school, waiting while they contacted the transport department and checked with her teacher. It may have been only five minutes or ten or was it twenty? All I know is that I had no idea where my child was.

By the time the school called back to say she would be dropped off once the bus circled back from its last stop, my legs felt like jelly and I could not feel my extremities.

That’s when I realized if she had had a cell phone, I could have called her immediately. I would not have had to take this side trip to hell and back.

When we got home, I fed her cake and ice cream to make myself feel better and got onto the Internet. I did some quick, thorough research into all the ‘kid friendly’ phones on the market and hit the buy button.

Is it unseemly for so young a child to have a cell phone? Am I wrong to make use of the technology out there? For now though, I have some peace of mind.

By Tania Malik

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Sunday, January 25, 2009


You Skating, Happy Fools!

As soon as we stepped onto the ice, I was ready to turn back, convinced that this was a foolish mistake. Not only did I have to keep my five-year old daughter upright, but what would a fall do to my fifty+-year-old body?

Fortunately, I resisted the impulse to escape and we began the long loop around the indoor skating rink. Though we started clumsily, trying out different support positions, we worked out a way to go around safely -- Emma holding the rink wall with one hand and onto me with the other.

Slipping back to the time when my father taught me to skate, I heard myself intoning, “Left, two-three; right, two-three; left, two-three; right, two-three. . . ” in a continuous recitation that gave Emma and me greater confidence and poise. For two hours we gently skated together until Emma could take off on her own for moments at a time. “I did it myself, Mommy! I did it myself” she proudly declared.

As we sipped hot chocolate during one of our breaks, I thought of times long past when my childhood family spent Sundays skating on the ponds and lakes in and around Detroit. There I was, the Michelin child, bundled in leggings, scarf and a plastic gray jacket, wobbling around the pond in Palmer Park or skating beside my father as we ventured to the middle of Kensington Lake to see the ice fishermen in their tiny huts.

Often, my brother, an ice hockey wizard, would fly past me, literally skating circles around me or showing off his backward moves. My mom, smiling, enjoyed the fresh air and exercise. These were happy times.

Going to the skating rink with Emma triggered other memories, too: the best way to lace up ice skates, feeding Cheese Nips to the ducks at Palmer Park, the funny hats my parents wore -- my dad had a tan canvas one with woolly ear flaps, and my mom had a black furry one with gray scarf-like ties.

Also, the coldness of the air, the friendly starkness of the bare winter trees standing in a field of white snow and even the dirty brown snow edges where passing cars had tossed up loose dirt. All these live in my memory of skating in Michigan.

I often wonder, what will Emma recall from her childhood? Will it be the good times we’ve had, where we’re close and in step -- such as walking to school and talking about “Mother Earth,” or will it be those times when I’ve failed her, giving in to my tiredness rather than staying with her far into the night when she’s frightened and fighting sleep.

I’d like to imagine that one day, when she’s walking her daughter to school or teaching her to skate, a trail of memory will surface and she’ll think happily of good times when she laughed and played such as that time at the skating rink when she and her mother went round and round in earnest effort until she bravely strode out on her own, carried by her own spirit and joy.

By Nina Katz

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Saturday, January 24, 2009


Dreaded Dermatologist Can't Spot What a Mother Sees

I know my way around San Francisco's 450 Sutter, an art deco building that I frequently haunted in my drug-peddling days with Parke-Davis. On every floor you’ll find doctors’ offices stacked like building blocks, and a stream of patients with bad teeth, intestines, hearts, arteries, bad breath, poor eyesight, permanent acne.

In the dermatologist’s office I fill out a form for my son, Alex, who at six months has been afflicted a mosaic of skin problems -- baby acne, hives, heat rash, and cradle cap. I sit cross from two men, one stout and dark, the other tall and stiff, each menacing in their quiet way.

“Mr. Alexander Lovett,” the medical assistant announces, looking down at my baby. I’m embarrassed by the white flakes of cradle cap, the tender pink spot on his temple that he keeps rubbing every morning with his fists. How do I tell the lady that he’s really a congenial baby that I couldn’t have passed on any of my compulsive tendencies to my little cherub?

She just smiles and waves at Alex, and I proceed behind her down the hallway.

We sit in a sterile room where the only color is the kaleidoscope red and purple of the stroller, and the pink cheeks and oozing spot on my son’s head. The wait is mind numbing as Novocain when you’re afraid of the dentist’s drill.

When the doctor comes in, I meet his gaze and shake his spider-veined hands.

“He’s had four kind of rashes,” I say, “starting with hives, really bad. Now it’s this.” I point to my son’s forehead. “What do you…”

The venerable doctor cuts me off, “Now it’s not so bad.”

Except that my son’s head is festooned with patches like lily pads in a pond. “I know you’ve seen it all,” I say politely, but inside I’m crying out at the beast that has turned my young prince into a warty frog. “He had a terrible heat rash when we took him to Las Vegas to see my parents.”

“But he doesn’t have it now, does he? What’s to worry about?” The doctor gave a knowing smile, and turned around before I could “but” him back. As he walks out of the room, I realize that he’s the mad-scientist Billy Crystal character who has walked right out of “Princess Bride” with wooden clogs and a shock of white hair.

Somehow I’d become a moving shadow on his wall. After sixty years in practice his patients and their moms must have turned into streaming video, put on mute. I could jump up and down like an unwanted pop-up ad, and he would only come back with, “Bad skin, no problem!” Or, better yet, “No insurance, no service!”

When he hobbles back into the exam room, he leans over Alex in the stroller. Right away, my congenial son erupts into a wail.

“He doesn’t like doctors,” the old fellow chuckles.

Now I’m not so sure I like them, either. Certainly not the kind that pats you on the head when you’re recounting your firstborn’s troubles. In my early twenties, I knew that doctors were at the top of the totem pole, while we sales reps in our slick pantsuits -- who pestered them with freebies and questionable claims -- were at the bottom. With the dreaded dermatologist, it didn’t matter if I was a parent, patient or pesky salesperson; he was the esteemed doctor, no questions asked or allowed.

The doctor hands me a prescription, but I can’t make out his scribbles. I slink out of the office before my son can shed more cradle cap on that polished floor.

Flash forward six weeks. It turns out that the medicine prescribed by Dr. Dread has worked, although it’s so potent that I have to wash my hands of the steroid-containing stuff, or else they might lock me up with Barry Bonds. I haven’t told our pediatrician about this experience, but we’re grateful that he’s easygoing and respectful, the antithesis of the old-school dermatologist. Next time, though, I think I’ll try some aloe vera for my baby and, if I can muster it, a thicker layer of skin for mom.

By Li Miao Lovett

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Friday, January 23, 2009


Is it Easier to Raise Kids or Do Math?

I hate math.

I’ve always had a contentious relationship with math and all its offshoots – trigonometry, geometry, algebra, calculus, etc.

I barely managed to scrape through the subject at school. I could never understand why I would need to learn it. I will never have any use for this was my reasoning – how will it ever help me deal with real life?

But this last weekend the heavens opened, a light shone down on me, and the angels sang in exalted chorus.

All is revealed: I will need it to help my daughter with her math homework.

This epiphany is of little comfort as I try to understand the handout from her teacher listing the math strategies she needs to master and practice everyday.

Now is as good a time as any to regret daydreaming about writing “My Great Novel,” instead of paying more attention in math class.

“So Mom, should I use the nine strategy for this one?” she asks.

“What do you think – should you use the nine strategy?” I query back. This I did learn -- if you don’t know the answer to something, just repeat the question.

“Can you explain this to me?” I ask my husband that night giving him the handout.

“It’s really quite easy,” he says, after giving it a quick once over. When someone says something is easy, it never, ever is. Half a minute later my eyes have glazed over.

I try to calculate how many ounces remain in the leftover wine bottle on the kitchen counter. But, darn it, that needs math, too. Besides, I don’t think there’s enough in there to make me believe for just a moment that I’m Einstein anyway.

I’m back to the present and my husband has grabbed a piece of paper. It’s covered with examples of the different strategies and how to work them out.

“So you see, you put this here and then its pretty easy. . . it all falls into place as long as you remember this basic principal,” he is pointing out.

Five minutes of my life that I will never get back.

I stare at the numbers and they’re sticking their tongue out and mocking me.

Oh, god. . . how I HATE math.

By Tania Malik

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Thursday, January 22, 2009


New Age Zen Master Is Four-Years Old

I was gardening in the backyard one day, picking the dead geranium flowers from the stems of the plant, when I noticed my four-year old son come outside.

He was kicking about on the lawn, lost in his own reverie, the way four-year old children often are.

I called over to him. “What are you doing, Aidan?”

“Oh, I’m just enjoying the journey,” he replied with the calm certainty of a Zen master.

What did he say? Did he just say I’m just enjoying the journey? Where the hell did he get that line? I couldn’t help but turn my head away and laugh to myself.

I imagine he had seen Yoda say it in an episode of Star Wars. Or perhaps he heard a New Age woman in line at Whole Foods say it to the checker.

Wherever he picked up that wise saying, I found myself giving it some thought, and I looked at my little four-year old boy with new respect.

And then I went back to picking dead geranium flowers – and tried to just enjoy the journey.

By Lisa Nave

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Why Do Mothers Die So Often in Fairy Tales?

I watched yet another children’s movie this weekend in which the main character’s mother dies, The Tale of Despereaux. 

Princess Pea’s mom is so frightened by a rat splashing in her soup that she dies face down in her broth, all in the first fifteen minutes of the film. 

It wasn’t as hard to watch as the early scene of Finding Nemo, when Nemo’s mom and all the eggs that would become his brothers' and sisters' eggs are eaten by a barracuda. In some stories, like The Little Mermaid, and Snow White, mom is gone before the story even starts.

I think the award for most brutal mommy death is Bambi, when poor Bambi’s mom is shot by a hunter.  My eyes get teary every time I see little, spotted Bambi trying to play with his dead mother in the bloodied snow.

I’d argue that the evil stepmother tale is really a subset of the dead mother genre.  Cinderella’s real mother would have encouraged her to go to the ball. Hansel and Gretel were two more victims of a grieving father’s poor choice in second wives. 

For a long time, the dead mother as a plot device irritated me. Are we mothers that much of an encumbrance on our children’s sense of adventure? Why can’t anything exciting happen when Mom is around?

After watching The Tale of Despereaux, I finally made peace with the loss of the mom archetype, perhaps because the story developed the theme so well: Dad and Princess Pea bury Mom, and Dad, the king, is inconsolable.  

He bans soup and rats from his kingdom, and a rainless fog descends for the next couple of years.  The king sits alone, staring into space, and plays sad, slow songs on his mandolin.  Unlike Rapunzel, the princess is not imprisoned by a tower, but by grief.  Luckily, she meets a fearless mouse (Despereaux) and the salty, but warmhearted rat Roscuro who had mistakenly terrified Pea’s mother to death.  Through facing new challenges and adventures, Princess Pea learns that life goes on and that it is best to forgive and let go. The chef starts making soup again, and the rain, rats and sun return to the kingdom. 

For most children, losing their mother is the worst possible thing they can imagine.  Fairy tales provide a safe way to work through an unthinkable scenario.  The best ones don’t lie.  Life for Cinderella, Snow White, and Hansel and Gretel is all pretty awful after Mom dies.  All are forced to face further challenges (evil stepmothers, poison apples, and cannibalistic witches) before they meet or rediscover good people (fairy godmothers, seven dwarves, handsome princes, or Dad) and life gets better.

Mothers used to die all the time, in childbirth, of infectious diseases, of exhaustion. I’m sure fairy tales developed as the one sort of vaccination that mothers could give their children for grief. They wanted their children to know, as I want my children to realize, that they will find love after I’m gone. 

By Beth Touchette-Laughlin

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It has taken an awfully long time. 

Many thought this day would never come.

When the impossible would turn to possible.

Incompetent to competent.

Discord to discourse.

There is a lovefest going on this country.

It is so long over-due.

Barack Obama is the right person at the right time.

I don't think George Bush would have ever been the right guy at any time.

While not a bad man, he represented so much that is wrong with this country. That connections, entitlement, cheating and fear could propel you to the very top.

Barack Obama represents hard work, achieving goals, being a good person, a great mate, a wonderful parent, high intellect, and even higher moral ground.

It will take much to make this country right.

After eight long, horrendous years of suffering and pain, the time has come to celebrate and to embrace the possible.

Only this time the right person will set the tone. There is probably no one better than Barack Obama to lead this country out of the darkness and toward the light. 

An historic moment. 

An important history lesson for our children.

By Dawn Yun

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Monday, January 19, 2009


Remove Glasses, Watch Wrinkles Disappear!

It wasn’t like birthing a child when your life changes in an instant.

It was more gradual. I couldn’t read street signs at night. I needed to move closer to the front in dance class to learn the steps. I couldn’t make out facial expressions on the television from the couch.

I was relatively young in my twenties, when I thought that personal image still mattered, so I tried to push away the image of Sally Jessy Raphael and scheduled an appointment for an eye exam.

Two weeks after all of the optometry tests with the weird conflicted pirate machinery (“Is this one or that one better?”) I came home and looked at the new me in the mirror.

Yikes -- there was no way I had that many wrinkles. I just looked at myself before picking up my glasses and I did not have that many wrinkles. What did I do, walk through a time warp?

It must be the fluorescent light in this bathroom, and the living room, and even the kitchen where I tried looking into a terrible compact mirror. This was a terrible investment. The only way to not see all of those wrinkles was to take my glasses off.

And so I did.

The lack of precise facial crevices and cracks made me happier.

I wish that it was as easy to remove the drive to perfection that comes with mothering -- like a pair of glasses.

By Jennifer O’Shaughnessy

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Sunday, January 18, 2009


Loss Brings Grief, Empathy and Perspective

I've spent the morning crying for a high school friend.

She was a junior when I was a sophomore, and we were in a couple of clubs together. Really down-to-earth, gorgeous, sweet girl. I haven't seen her since she graduated.

Today on, I read a message she posted last May about her brother. Her brother was a year ahead of her. He was an adorable jock kind of guy and they were good friends throughout school.

Her post said that her brother had lost a three and a half year battle with brain cancer. He left behind his loving wife of fourteen years and their two daughters. And, I noticed in the message, as if it couldn't get any worse, one of his surviving daughters has leukemia.

I wrote my friend an e-mail in remembrance of her brother and to send her and her family my wishes for love and healing. She wrote back quickly to thank me, and then told me her grief was made even more unbearable this August when her eight-year-old boy drowned on vacation just four days after the one-year mark of her brother's death.

Her e-mail told me some days she can't even bear to breathe but she's got two other daughters to care for so she just keeps going for them.

God, I couldn't stop sobbing.

After my first child was born, I was shocked by the fierceness of my love and my desire to protect him. One day, as he slept in my arms, I found myself crying over him, begging the gods that his presence in my life would not be temporary.

Since then, my prayer has broadened to include others closest to me -- my husband and my daughter -- but, always, it is my desperate plea. And I know that as I sit at the computer crying for my friend, it was her plea, too.

By Anjie Reynolds

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Saturday, January 17, 2009


Toy Wars: Boys Have Better Toys Than Girls

My seven-year daughter isn’t into Barbies. Or the lip-lined Bratz dolls with their wide, disinterested gazes.

She’s not into princesses either ­– “They don’t do anything,” she once explained – or the color pink.

None of the “girly stuff” for her.

Instead she loves animals (both herbivores and carnivores, but prefers those whose native habitat is on the African continent). She immerses herself in art (which our overflowing craft shelves can attest to) from crayoning to painting to building mosaics from colored blocks.

She also enjoys running, swimming, speeding about on her scooter and playing on the monkey bars. Anything with speed and motion, like a lot of her girlfriends.

Finding intriguing toys for her this holiday season should have been relatively easy. Instead, it was a grapple in the distinctions and assumptions made about boys and girls.

My three-year old son loves anything with buttons, blasting and creating. As obscure as that sounds, finding toys for him is effortless. Store shelves are stocked full of tough superhero guys that shoot rockets, building sets, explorer compass/flashlight sets, etc.

Those toys also do something. They aren’t inanimate objects that can only pose. They may require three-dimensional thinking and execution through building. Or they reward instruction following with a cool effect. Kids can actually learn something while honing their motor skills manipulating small linking pieces to create a rocket ship or operating motor.

These same toys are considered “boy stuff” to most girls. The majority of the toy themes are geared to boys from war games to male rescue squads or racer cars with boys shown cheering the cars on the box lid. Generally these toys are also grouped in the “boy” section of the major toy chains. (To find the “girl stuff” follow the pastel hue until you reach the shelves of dolls, stuffed animals and craft kits.)

I see Lauren eye the gifts that William gets with envy and interest. He is given a head lamp to use for exploring. She, in turn, is given a beading craft. William gets spy goggles and a flashlight that can fit on his belt loop. She is given a set of nail polishes and a Beanie Baby.

I don’t know who cringes more, her or me.

As a Mom of two daughters I’m conscious of the concerns young girls continue to face around body image, esteem and eating disorders. As the sister to three brothers, I am also pleased that organizations are working to encourage young women to consider careers in math and science. But I also have to question why encouragement is needed.

Yet, I wander through the stores trying to find what is so obviously missing from the shelves for my inquisitive, engaging daughter who just so happens to not be into “girly” stuff.

Snakes and snails and puppy dog tails, that’s what little boys are made of. Sugar and spice and everything nice. That’s what little girls are made of. . .

By Maija Threlkeld

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Friday, January 16, 2009


Pigtails Makes the Girl

I have a favorite picture. It’s lost in someone’s basement. Probably my Dad’s, possibly mine. I’d always thought I’d be more organized than my Dad. Nope.

It’s a picture of me as a two-year old in a field of bursting yellow dandelions in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. I’m on my Dad’s shoulders – piggyback, which I now appreciate, as a mom of three, as quite a test of strength.

My body starts aching after the first 100 steps, with a little twenty-pounder on top. How did my Dad do it??

We’re hiking. Dad’s in his black and red L.L. Bean lumberjack, wool shirt. I’m in some hand-knit ‘70s vest -- a hand-me down from my big sister, perhaps? Or maybe a Christmas present from some crafty Great Auntie.

A colorful testament to the colorful times.

I think it’s a picture of us from behind because I don’t remember our faces. I remember my Dad’s shirt and my fuzzy, blonde pigtails poking out of the side of my head like little fountains of cuteness. And I remember the dandelions. Hundreds and millions of dandelions.

The sun is coming up over the hill in front of us, filtering through my pigtails, making them glow like little Tinkerbelles next to my head. It means it’s either morning time, when the birds are twittering about, eager to find that early worm. Or it’s an evening hike, just when the sun is heading down over the Aspen trees and rows of Evergreens, getting ready to tuck itself in for a good night’s sleep.

My twin girls are just now turning two-years old. And I was caught completely off-guard the other morning when, as I walked into the kitchen to get my good morning snuggle before an early meeting, both of them had their heads full of bouncing and wiggling pigtails, courtesy of my dexterous and brave husband.

A lump in my throat, an ache in my heart.

How could these flops of hair bring about such an emotional reaction? An innocence, I suppose. They bring back a memory of my life when it all was about riding on my Daddy’s shoulders before I knew that I’d need to support my own shoulders, keep them thrown back, and make it up that big hill on my own.


I must remember to call my Dad to thank him. And to show him a picture of his gorgeous little granddaughters and their pigtails. But, most importantly, I must remember to thank my own little girls for the gift that they have given me -- their pigtails.

By Annie Yearout

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Smart-Ass Kids With Attitude Need Gratitude

Why is it so difficult to get a child to go to bed?

It’s always one more thing. Okay, I’ll go to bed if I can just watch this show. Just ten more minutes. Is that more than fifteen minutes?

The adorable thing. In the midst of a major blowout, she always says something naïve and cute and my heart melts.

“No! NOW!” I scream. She relents. Well, actually, she has no choice. I’ve turned off the TV and hidden the remote.

She seems shocked when I announce we’re brushing our teeth. “Brushing our teeth, too?” she asks. Like we haven’t done this every night for the last four years -- which we have.

“Yes,” I hiss. 

“What-e-v-e-r,” she says. 

Whatever? She’s five. How does she know that word, and when did she learn to say it just that way?

Can you imagine if you ever said that to your mother? I know what mine would have said.

When they’re babies, it’s so routine. Poop. Hunger. Sleep. The Big Three. But as soon as they can walk and talk, there are all these other variables. It’s the variables that prevent them from knowing routines.

And realizing what to say and what not to say.

Ah, it's a good thing they're cute.

by Dawn Yun

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Elementary School is the New High School -- For Mothers

I walk through the school yard, heading back to my car, ready to roll into work. Small groups of moms stand around the play area, chatting and drinking coffee from commuter mugs. My insecurities kick in and I wonder what group wants me.

Where do I fit?

There are the moms of older kids, who know everything about the school and how my kid will behave since they’ve been through it already. Sometimes they like to talk to me, to give me advice. I play dumb and grateful.

There are the soccer moms, probably rearranging car pools for the fourth time this week. My son doesn’t play soccer so that group is not for me. I also don’t fit in with the moms with money – I didn’t even know that “development” was another word for fundraising before my son started school.

Sometimes I feel like I’m back in high school.

It doesn’t help that I’m not good at broaching groups. I don’t know how to break in. If I nudge my way into the group and listen, am I invading personal space? If I laugh too loudly at some not so funny remark, or add my own comments, am I interrupting? I somehow missed the life lesson about how to properly infiltrate a group.

I find it easiest most days to be the working mom, too busy to stop. I smile and keep walking, trying to project purpose, somewhere to go. I nod hellos, sometimes tap lightly on a mom’s arm or pat a back.

Maybe by middle school, I’ll find my place in the school yard.

By Marianne Lonsdale

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Sugar Addict Children

When did it become common practice for parents to take turns buying junk food to give kids after playing a sport?

My son has played sports for about three years and I’m still wide-eyed when a mom pulls out cupcakes with frosting towers as soon as the last inning ends.

I’m appalled and feel powerless to change this tradition.

“The snacks are so important,” some perky mom says at the start of each season. “That’s why the kids play, what they look forward to.”

What about health? What about the pleasure of playing? What about the child-obesity crisis?

My concern escalated last spring when my son got snacks not just after baseball games, but also after practice. Practice ended at six p.m. Did he really need a bag of chips and a sugary drink as an appetizer before dinner?

I forbid him to partake which made me the mean mom.

I try to come up with something healthy when it’s my turn. Something healthy, yet tasty enough that my son won’t be embarrassed. For my last attempt, I stuffed baggies with a cheese stick and a handful of wheat thins.

Another mom, whose turn it was not, brought doughnuts. Just in case whoever had snacks forgot -- she didn’t want the kids to suffer.

Guess which snack the kids chose?

By Marianne Lonsdale

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Monday, January 12, 2009


Too Damn Cold!

The way other people hate food poisoning or a bad case of the flu, I hate being cold.

I can’t function cold, at all, and by cold I mean any temperature that dips below fifty degrees. My teeth chatter, my lips turn blue and my toes go numb. All I want to do is wrap myself in a wool blanket, huddle in front of a roaring fire and eat large amounts of high-fat carbohydrates. My husband sleeps in shorts and a T-shirt under a cotton bedspread we brought home from Guatemala; beside him, I sleep in flannel pajamas and a fleece sweatshirt under a layer of comforters so thick he calls it the “iron lung.”

Cold is the reason I moved to California, so that I wouldn’t have to be. Like Scarlett O’Hara raising her fist to defy hunger at the end of the first reel of Gone With the Wind, I vowed, growing up in a one-hundred year old house in New Jersey that lacked insulation, that as soon as I had a choice, I would never be cold again.

In that house, the water in the toilet bowls froze at least once every winter. We shivered in the kitchen with the oven door open and all four burners on the stovetop aflame. At night, we draped our school uniforms over the steam heaters so that in the morning we could jump straight into them from the warmth of our beds; once I sat so close to the coils of an old-fashioned space heater I singed a mohair sweater. The year that Jimmy Carter urged all Americans to turn down their thermostats to sixty-five degrees, we were incredulous. Sixty-five degrees was balmy.

What was he talking about?

I lived blissfully in San Diego until I met and fell in love with my husband. I rented and he owned, in the frozen tundra of Marin. What choice did I have but to move?

He thinks I’m kidding when I tell him: The day I see a snowflake, I’m heading south.

By Jessica O’Dwyer

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Sunday, January 11, 2009


Working Mothers Are More Respected

I’m not sure exactly how it happened, but I know I had something to do with it. 

I started working again at my old company.  Doing the same things I’d done before the call to write my book practically blew me out of the office park.  Maybe I needed proof my masters’ degrees hadn’t gone to waste.  Maybe I was sick and tired of the startled reactions I got when I answered the ‘what do you do?” question with “I’m a writer” and nothing hardcover to back it up.  

Most likely it’s because I was tired of not making any money.  I wasn’t pulling my weight financially; just the three kids, laundry, groceries, dinners, lunches, bills, dog (yes we have one now) social calendar, team snacks, and carpools. 

I mentioned to a realtor friend that I was going ‘back to work’ and she got all excited – too excited, actually. That’s when I realized I was way more interesting to her than the mom who wouldn’t take phone calls during the writing hours of ten to twelve.

So the first day I show up, there’s the inevitable, “Hey I was here when this company was still an idea around Martha’s dining room table!” that makes me sound historic, if not informed.

I’m walking around, trying to remember that authoritative strut I had then; they obviously need the visual reminder of who I am around here.  One of the new guys, who’s working on the kind of healthcare reports I used to do in my sleep, stops to hear my spiel. He’s never heard of Martha. Then he asks me, “So what have you been doing these past FIVE years?”

The emphasis is mine, not his, but that’s how I hear the question.  I stumble over my answer, honestly because I hadn’t worked on the list that I’ll kick myself for not organizing ahead of time (had a baby, carted her around to above list of duties; wrote content for a global warming non-profit; wrote my book’s first draft, chaired a search committee for our school).

The point is I had an answer – lots of answers.  But after my hesitation lasts two seconds too long, he nods with a smile, “Hey, just being a mom is a lot of work.”

“Yeah, that’s right,” I said, feeling humiliated without understanding why.  He walks away with his coffee mug, and I recognize his jaunty gait.  

He REALLY works, it says to me. 

By Kimberley Kwok

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Saturday, January 10, 2009


Love Letter to My Children

I have found in the raising of five children that sometimes it is better not to talk. Write a letter. Even if the child is quite young. We choose our words better when writing than speaking in the moment. Sometimes the letter is an apology, sometimes our love and caring comes through in words.

This letter was sent to all five of my kids. At the time some were at university, some in high school and one in grade school.

I remember nursing you.
Completely aware.
How soon passing.
How soon passing.
It will never be like this again.
I remember swinging you.
How soon passing. 
How soon passing.
It will never be the same.
I remember your first step.
How soon passing.
How soon passing.
I am blessed to see this.
I remember carpooling.
Listening to your chatter.
How soon passing.
How soon passing.
Thanks for these moments.
It will never be the same.
But I took time to record each moment.
Every stage, memories rich to call upon.
And I love every new challenge.
Knowing that I took advantage of those moments.
How soon passing.
How soon passing.
That created a new you, a new me.

Love, Mom
(That loves you still and always will, but doesn't mind getting a whole night's uninterrupted sleep.)

P.S. Other kids are lucky! Their moms sent Hallmark.

By Ruth Scott

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Friday, January 09, 2009


So Sleepy, Somebody Wake Me Up!

What on earth did I do with my time before my daughter was born? Did I suffer from narcolepsy or some sort of chronic fatigue disorder or something? Because I’m wondering how it is possible that I lived in my house two years prior to her birth and still did not manage to paint the dining room, organize my office, or finish putting my wedding photos into an album.

Because I had hours, I had days, I had whole weekends where changing diapers, cleaning up the high chair, washing boo boos, picking up toys and constantly spotting a very small and very reckless climber (she likes to stack things up and see how high she can get) were not mandatory activities.

Even if I take into account all those Saturday mornings when my husband and I slept in till the decadent hour of nine (or even ten!) a.m., or the Sundays wiled away sipping coffee on the back patio reading The New York Times, that still left a lot of space to get things accomplished. What was I thinking? I’ll bet I could have written a novel, found an agent and got it published.

We could be living off the royalties from the movie rights right now! (At least this is what I fantasize that I could have done with all that freedom I had pre-child.) Wouldn’t it be great if you could get credit for the time you didn’t use? Because let me tell you, I’d sure like to cash in some of those credits now…

By Shannon Matus-Takaoka

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Thursday, January 08, 2009


How A School Field Trip Got Tripped Up

With four high-octane children and a husband often away on business, my mother never had the energy to go on field trips with me when I was in school. So for my daughter’s first kindergarten trip – I wanted to be there to share this new experience.

I said I would drive to Muir Woods and could chaperone another child. Once there, my daughter, Mimi, darted ahead to her friend, Annali, and her mother, Sherry, while my charge, Aimee, lagged behind, as did Sherry’s chaperoned child, Lizzie.

“Go ahead,” I yelled to Sherry. “We’ll catch right up with you.”

We never did.

“Hurry up, girls,” I kept saying to Aimee and Lizzie.

They didn't hear me.

Out of some forty children and twenty adults -- Aimee, Lizzie and I were last.

At one point, a father, Peter, observing my situation, asked the one question that played like a Mobius Loop through my head.

“Wish you were with your daughter?”

“It’s kind of why I came,” I said.

Lizzie thrust her arms in the air toward me so they formed a giant V.

“Pick me up,” she said. “I’m really tired.”

This child, who I did not know, and whose life I was responsible for -- wanted me to pick her up? I'm sure she was very sweet, but she wasn't even the kid I was supposed to watch. 

Besides, I needed a pick-me up, too. Say a double-shot espresso latte grande? Actually -- two.

“How much longer?” I wearily asked another parent. 

To quote pretty much every kid I knew -- this was not fun.

“We’re almost there.”

“Hear that girls?” I said to my charges. “Let’s go!”

We raced, well, s-l-o-w-l-y walked, a few hundred more feet. And there, by the banister was Sherry, her daughter and mine.

“Mommy, Mommy, where were you?” Mimi asked.

“I was with Aimee and Lizzie,” I said, while hugging her. My deep embrace revealed to me just how very worried I had been. 

Mimi looked up. Her nose wrinkled, eyes confused. “Why weren’t you with me?”

It was the same query I would ask my mother when she didn't come on my field trips, while other mothers did. 

I apologized and made a mental note for our next field trip: stay very close to my own child, while still watching someone else's.

I put my arm around Mimi’s shoulders as we walked to the parking lot. Even if it was only a few minutes, and though it wasn’t exactly what I had planned, at least I did get to spend part of my daughter’s first field trip with her.

At least I tried.

By Dawn Yun

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Wednesday, January 07, 2009


Marley and Us

My ten-year old daughter wants a dog when her little sister turns four.

At first I was thankful for the two-year reprieve. Now I’m annoyed by her hypothetical dog. With its hypothetical name. And with the hypothetical questions she feels warrant discussion.

Or worse -- answers.

Should it be an Irish coat or an American coat? Can we move Cameron’s toy kitchen and have it sleep there? Should we paper train or outside train? Go to a breeder or adopt? If it was okay for Cameron to be three years old instead of four, could we get the dog in a year?

Mackenzie repeated the last question from the back seat as we raced across town from dance practice to Rossi Field, my son Tyler’s major league aspirations hanging in the balance and Cameron’s missed nap whines turning to full screams.

A dog in a year?

Was she nuts?

By Kimberley Kwok

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Tuesday, January 06, 2009


Solstice Moon

The luminous orb of the full moon blossomed over the horizon last week, a huge swirl of silver and porcelain edged with streaks of charcoal and rose against the wintry sky.

I stopped in my rush to somewhere, struck with awe. I felt small and insignificant, yet connected to everyone and everything, sheltered in the same dome under the same watchful lunar guardian.

I am not a religious person, but as I paused from the usual frenzy of my day to drink in the celestial magic, I envisioned the bright star in the desert sky two millennia ago that compelled shepherds and kings alike to suspend their mundane tasks in search of wonder.

It is the season of wonder now, when darkness yields to light in the astrological fulcrum known as the winter solstice

I do not usually pay the solstice any heed, so I was surprised that my heart felt as full as the moon in this year’s time of dwindling light.

Then I remembered another recent moon. This moon graces the cover of the post-election New Yorker. The cover is almost entirely black. The inky letters spelling out the magazine’s name are barely visible against the night sky. Except for the “O.”  O” for Obama. The “O” is a silvery moon illuminating the Lincoln Memorial below.

I thought of the four million people, our modern-day shepherds and kings, who will soon pack every inch from the steps of the monument honoring the man who freed the slaves to the steps of the U.S. Capitol. They will come from all corners of the earth to pay tribute to a black man from humble origins as he ascends those steps to become President. This, too, feels like a miracle.

We live in a time of crushing anxiety—economic meltdown, war, terrorism, global warming. The ranks of the desperate will surely swell. Yet, there is a silver lining of hope and promise in the days ahead.

Our new president is cool and steady, like the guardian moon that unites us in her luminous glow.

From utmost darkness, the light begins to grow.

By Lorrie Goldin


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Monday, January 05, 2009


Ouch! Children's Fascination with Scars & Bruises

It was that time of the day again.

Unlike the five to six p.m., witching hour when kids go insane due to a) lack of food, b) overstimulation, c) boredom, or d) the usual need for attention: the discussion of wounds usually begins upon school pick-up.

“Mimi!” I scream when I see her walk out of her classroom. At seven, she still lets me give her a big hug.

“Mama,” she’ll say pulling away, her face scrunched into seriousness. No jokes. No asking what she learned (not that wants to share that anyway).  No. None of the above.

It’s Scar Time!

Mimi pulls up her dress to reveal the latest mark to add to her vast collection of scrapes, cuts and other wounds.

This is followed by a long, very detailed cause of said scar. Most often it is a fall.

“Did you cry, baby?” I ask with concern.

If it’s a big, one, sometimes she does. Mostly, she holds it in. “I wanted to but I didn’t,” she says proudly.

“Brave girl!” I say.

Then she reveals to me in intense detail, complete with recreations, of how it all happened. She will hold up the scar, even if this means contorting her body, and hoisting the dented body part an inch from my eyes.

It is terribly important that I SEE it. So close, how could it be missed? It’s practically in 3-D.

Like watching geese gather, often children spilling out of other classes will notice her demonstration and come running over to see the wounds, or, rather, medals.

Then, of course, the other kids are compelled to roll up their sleeves, lift their shirts and tug on pant legs to share – and compare -- their bruises.

There can be competition.

“Mine is so much redder than yours.”

“You wouldn’t believe the blood that came out of that cut.”

“I almost had to go to the hospital.”

“I DID go to the hospital.”

“I went to the hospital and got stitches!!!”

Clear winner! Clear winner!

Scars – nature’s tattoos for kids.

By Dawn Yun

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Sunday, January 04, 2009


Get to the End of the Story Already!!!

For once I would like to know the ending to one of my six-year-old’s stories.

She comes home from school with the most amazing anecdotes. They have all the elements of great yarns -- comedy, tragedy, interesting characters. Her delivery is punctuated with “ums” and “uhs” that only serve to propel the building tension to its supposed conclusion.

And many times she will merge two different narratives into one glorifying epic that leaves me breathless with anticipation. But more often that not, I am left to my own devices when it comes to the outcome of these dramatic sagas.

Like any good storyteller she reels me in with a great opening:

“Mom, guess what happened at school today?” (Sorry, Charles Dickens, I am a mother anxious to glean any information from my child, so this rivals, “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”).

“What?” I say encouragingly.

“We were at PE and Mrs. Philips -- the PE teacher -- told us to get into line… Will cut Anthony in line. Then…um…Anthony pushed Will...and…uh...then Natalie started crying and we were all saying stop, stop…and you know, I thought my glasses broke, but it wasn’t my fault.”

“Wait,” I say backtracking. “Did you get pushed? Is that how your glasses broke?”

“No…um…they didn’t really break, but Mr. N told me when I was looking at this thing on the blacktop…um…to go to the office so they could check them.”

“Who is Mr. N?”

“Oh, just this guy.”

By now I am mentally biting my nails. Whatever happened to Will and Anthony? What exactly made Natalie cry? What made her think her glasses had broken? What was this thing on the blacktop that caught her attention and who is this mysterious Mr. N?

But, suddenly distracted, she points outside.

“Look mom a squirrel!”

And she’s gone.

It will be impossible to have her revisit the subject now that she’s lost interest.

So once again I am left hanging onto the anti-climatic edge of my seat.

By Tania Malik

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Saturday, January 03, 2009


What to Do When You've Got TOO Much to Do?

I used to be so ambitious. I don’t mean regarding my career path, but rather my daily To-Do List.

I dared to put actual projects on the list that would take planning, shopping, organizing, actual doing! Somehow, these things never got crossed off of my list. No, they would just get transferred day after day, week after week, ultimately year to year. I may as well have written down reorganize our health care system.

Now I have my 10 by 10 List. Ten things I like to complete by ten a.m. If I can do these things, I feel like I have already accomplished so much.

1) Send both my kids off happy. If I know I send them off with everything they need, including a good lunch, I feel less badly about the fact that they have already watched at least an hour of TV and that their daily breakfast is an unlimited supply of frozen waffles from Costco.
2) My sit-ups. I often have to hide in the bathroom to do these.
3) Load the dishwasher. This involves first emptying the dish rack, then emptying the full dishwasher, followed by putting the dishes away. And finally remembering the dirty dining room table and retracing my steps.
4) Feed the dog. If there is not a can started I get to investigate leftovers and expiration dates in the meat drawer for options.
5) Walk the dog. This can be the highlight of my day if I have plenty of time or a big pain if I am rushed.
6) Take a shower. Never underestimate a good shower.
7) Answer e-mails. These can change the course of my day in a few clicks.
8) Straighten up. My standard is: would I be mortified if someone unexpectedly showed up at my door?
9) Laundry. I do a minimum of two loads a day. I find if I start early, I can prevent my dirty clothes from reproducing in my laundry basket.
10) Leave my house! If I managed to complete everything above I am entitled to do something just for me.

Like plan an immediate trip to Peet’s Coffee for a mocha. I wonder if I have time to get a pedicure before school pickup.

By Cathy Burke

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Friday, January 02, 2009


Menopausal Mama Rock On!

I happened to catch Tina Turner on Oprah

The 68-year-old diva strutted across the stage on her mile-long legs, whipping the audience into a frenzy as she belted out “Proud Mary” as only she can.

Before I knew it, I was dancing along in my living room ignoring the horrified look on my six-year-old daughter’s face.

When Tina announced she was coming out of retirement, I knew I had to see her in concert. A few seconds later I was on my laptop clicking away and buying a pair of tickets for her fall performance at the HP Pavilion. Not cheap, nosebleed seats, either. These were damn good ones. Right there on the floor.

Tina wasn’t the only one ending her retirement, you see. As a former concert queen – and soon-to-be card-carrying member of the AARP -- I hadn’t been to a true, blow the-roof-off-the-arena event in nearly a decade.

This was my un-retirement party, too.

There was a time in my life when my world revolved around music. I lived to see performers like the Rolling Stones, Peter Frampton, Bob Seeger, David Bowie, and Rod Stewart live in concert.

Let me be clear: I went to a ton of great concerts. But thanks to imbibing copious quantities of pot, alcohol and whatever other mind-altering chemicals I could get my hands on, I don’t remember much about any of them.

I spent the evening of one of my first concerts, the Doobie Brothers, appropriately enough -- puking in the back seat of my date’s prized ‘63 Mercedes. At California Jam, a ‘70s mega-fest somewhere in the hinterlands of Ontario, I passed out hours before my beloved Aerosmith and Ted Nugent took the stage. I couldn’t find my car after, let alone tell you if Ted played “Cat Scratch Fever.”

Things were different the night of Tina’s concert.

Instead of downing a six-pack in the parking lot before the show, my husband and I had dinner in a cozy Italian restaurant. We washed down our pasta with a fine bottle of Pellegrino. And throwing caution to the wind, I skipped my usual decaf and ordered caffeinated coffee to accompany my crème brulee.

I was ready to rock.

Arriving at the sold-out arena sober and bloated, we armed ourselves with more water and searched for our seats in the dark. We found them just as Tina made her grand entrance. Her voice sent a current of electricity through the audience, pulling us to our feet with its power. Tina, her band and a bevy of hot back-up dancers put on the most amazing show; one I actually remembered the next morning.

Of course, being a mature concertgoer has its downside, too. By the time Tina got to “What's Love Got to Do with It,” my feet -- unaccustomed to the high-heeled boots I’d donned in an effort to look hip -- were begging me to sit.

My face was red and glistened with sweat. Not from dancing in the aisles, mind you. I had hot flashes to thank for my rosy glow. And my dinner caffeine fix was wearing off. During the half-hour intermission, I stifled yawns and wondered how much longer the show, or more accurately I, would last.

“Looks like we’re gonna have to stand again!” the silver-haired guy next to me announced, flashing a grin of dazzling dentures as Tina kicked off her second set.


I forced a tight smile and feigned enthusiasm as I stood with the rest of the crowd. Some ten songs later it was encore time. Prancing like a colt in her stilettos on a hydraulic platform that swooped over different sections of the audience to deliver her within inches of her adoring fans, Tina launched into a lengthy sing-along of “Be Good to Me.”

She was still going strong.

I was fading fast.

Awesome as Tina was, I found myself doing what would have been unthinkable in my twenties -- praying that the concert would end. 

I’d rocked out enough for one night.

Maybe even enough for another decade.

By Dorothy O’Donnell

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Thursday, January 01, 2009


Welcome 2009!!!!!!!!!!!!

How did it happen?

How is it possible?

How did an entire year go by?

It seems like a fast-forward dream.

A sign of age? A sign of motherhood. A sign.

To do something with the time that we do have.

Everyone is dying to live, but living to die.

OMG! I said it. The “D” word.

Everybody. Quick!  R-U-N!!!

The back-story of death is life.

We are here to live.

REALLY live.

With gratitude.  With attitude.

That’s the mantra for 2009 – Attitude with Gratitude.

There is a national cleansing of sorts going on.

Difficult, but ultimately good.

A new political administration.

It will get harder before it gets better.

Perhaps our obligation is to try and do something meaningful with the time we have, but not lose ourselves in the process. Actually let's try and find ourselves.

Love others – even those who we sometimes canNOT stand. It’s OK to admit that. Because the goal is to forgive.

Often that which is most painful gifts us with our greatest growth.

That’s why it’s called “growing pains.”

New beginnings.


A new year.

For the next 365 days don’t just watch the hours fly by, spread your wings and take flight. Soar! Follow the path of your journey.

Be mesmerized by fireworks all year long. Watch vivid colors. Observe rockets that only go up part way and fade. See amazing patterns paint the sky.

Have a loving, growth-oriented, prosperous, and ab-fab new year.

Have a blast!!!

(Spirits of every taste included.)

By Dawn Yun

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