What Do You Wear To Get The Results of a Biopsy? Random Questions I Never Thought I’d Ask…

What exactly is the appropriate dress code for getting the results of a biopsy?

In case you’re wondering, Miss Manners has not yet expounded on the topic, which, frankly, surprised me considering she once deemed “business casual” to be less of a dress code and more of an accounting practice accessorized by handcuffs.

Look. I understand that this question seems ridiculously inane, even for someone who is regularly consulted on matters of traditional, albeit arcane, fashion etiquette. Read more...

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My Voice

My voice has always gotten me into trouble.

Feel free to ask my mother, who has spent 40 years telling me to lower my voice in quiet places like, well, everywhere.

Or ask my former teachers, who had no choice but to give me an S- or N on my report card in “Cooperation and Consideration” because I used my voice, well, all the time.

Or my exes (all of whom are still close friends), who will tell you that I do indeed say everything I feel the exact moment I feel it. Even if the timing is, well, inopportune. Read more...

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Almost 8 and Almost 10

almost 8 almost 10 adolescence is harder than having a baby parenthood

To all of you in the throes of babyhood and toddler madness, please let me assure you that you will get through this.

And when you do, you will get down on your knees and pray to the gods of squeaky toys and late night feedings to go back.

I remember. I remember the sleep deprivation, the constant trail of unidentifiable gunk on your shirt and wondering bemusedly whether it was applesauce or poop, the endless delays because I can do it by MYSELF mommy, and the throw down tantrums in the middle of Target. Read more...

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This is Forty

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Last month, I bid my thirties farewell. There wasn’t much fanfare. No dark clouds in the sky heralding the end of life as I know it. I just woke up one day and was 40.

40 is a tricky number. To some it is a dirty word. To some it is a chance to throw a big fun party that rivals your wedding. To some – judging by all the articles titled “40 things I’ve learned at 40” – it is apparently the age of total enlightenment.

But no matter how you slice it, 40 can be weighty. Read more...

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A Mother’s Farewell

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Update: See this piece featured on Mamapedia!

A few weeks after we were married, Billy and I strolled into a coffee house in Alexandria. There on the bulletin board was a sign advertising beagle puppies born on our wedding day. If ever there was a sign, this was it. It seemed serendipitous to start our new life together with a little ball of fur to whom we were forever joined by a sunny day in January. We named him Charlottesville, in honor of the place where we met and fell in love.

Charlie shared our first home, our first months as newlyweds, our late nights and our early mornings. He took our loud voices and our moves in stride. We cut our parenting teeth on him, learning that when you become a parent, the things you give up pale in comparison to what you receive. Read more...

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16 Years of Choices

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This week, Billy and I celebrated the 16th anniversary of our first date (our “dateaversary” as we call it). A night that we walked into a bar as friends, just like so many other night. We drank some beers, watched a ballgame, and chose to take a leap.

Our story did not begin that night. Stories, after all, do not have beginnings or endings but simply arbitrary dates from which we mark a before and an after. October 19th is that day for us.

Billy once told me that fate brought us together; that there were too many coincidences, too many ghosts, too many decisions that could have gone the other way for it to be random.  But even if fate brought us together on the lawn of the law school, it was we who made the choice to be together that night in October. Read more...

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August 21st

One year ago, as our family vacation at the beach drew to a close, I felt more than the usual end-of-vacation melancholy. All summer long we had been living with my mother, sheltering each other after my father’s unexpected death in July. And it had worked like a dream: in that idyllic bubble we created, temporarily freed from any commitments or expectations, we had managed to buffer each other from the worst of the shock and pain.  But like all dreams, it couldn’t last. After our vacation, we would be returning not to my mother’s house and our safe little bubble, but back to our house. Back to real life. And I wasn’t sure I was ready for it. Read more...

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The Still of the Night

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I am an unabashed night owl, a trait I inherited from my father.  No really – researchers have actually found that there is a genetic component to a person’s circadian rhythms. Growing up, I would often come downstairs in the middle of the night to find him reading or working or making up his own crossword puzzles. Sometimes we would talk but often I would simply curl up next to him, my head rising and falling on his chest in rhythm with his breathing.  Nighttime was when he helped me solve my problems, mended my broken heart, and told me fantastic stories.  Nighttime was our time. Read more...

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The Picture We Never Took

Last Friday was apparently National Sibling Day.  I didn’t know that was a thing until I saw the plethora of pictures pop up on Facebook and Instagram.  Hallmark used to be the inventor of fun but meaningless holidays.  Now it’s social media.

But maybe it shouldn’t be a meaningless day.  We have holidays to recognize mothers and fathers – why not brothers and sisters? They are, after all, our first friends and our first loves.  It is from our siblings that we learn to share – the affection of our parents, the space in the backseat of a car, the last piece of cake.  From them we learn how to fight fairly and how to forgive. We learn how to keep a secret and how to communicate without uttering a word.  We know each other’s greatest sins and biggest dreams. We have seen each other at our best and at our worst and we love each other anyway. Read more...

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The Little Boy Who Made Us Complete

Six years ago today, I became a mother of boys.  Plural.  And it wasn’t long after Billy put our second baby boy in my arms that the questions began.

“Wow.  Two boys.  You must be….busy.”

“Are you going to try for a third?”  Third is always code for girl.

“At least you don’t have to pay for any weddings!” (always said with a chuckle).

The comments and questions come in many variations, with different tilts of the head, raised eyebrows, and innuendos hidden by smiles.  And every time I hear one, my blood boils.
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Being thankful…even when it’s hard

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Thanksgiving has never been my favorite holiday.  Don’t get me wrong – I love sitting around a table with my family and eating.  Those are, in fact, my two favorite things in the world.

I don’t have anything against Thanksgiving. I’ve just never been inspired by it.  Maybe it’s because we are lucky enough to routinely sit around the table and eat giant meals with our families.   Maybe it’s because Thanksgiving has none of the magic and majesty of other holidays. Maybe it’s because Thanksgiving is entirely… contrived.  It isn’t about anything except being together.  Being thankful.  Which is, of course, exactly why some people love it.   I get it. Read more...

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My 20th High School Reunion: What We All Learned. Together.

This weekend is my 20th high school reunion. That’s what I tell people anyway, because it’s just easier. But high school is a bit of a misnomer for us.  Our class of 100 went to school together for twelve years.

Twelve years.

When you go to school with people for that long, it’s not just high school. It’s your whole childhood.

You walk with each other down the long hallway on the first day of first grade and you pretend not to be scared.  You lose teeth together.  You chase each other on the playground.  You get lice.  You learn bad words.  You get braces.  You get left out.  You fall in love for the first time. Read more...

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So You Had a Bad Day…

Of all of life’s pleasures that are wasted on youth, the most overlooked is the luxury to indulge in a bad day.

Children can throw themselves on the floor wailing and moaning over a seemingly inconsequential disappointment.  Adolescents can walk around sullen and slam doors, just because they feel like it.  Brokenhearted college kids can curl up in the fetal position, play sad songs, put a straw in a bottle of wine, and sleep for 18 hours.  Because sometimes it feels good to just wallow.

But wallowing is an extravagance for the young. Read more...

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What I Learned On My Summer Vacation

Last week marked the official end to summer.   This was old news to many of us who said goodbye to summer weeks ago.  Perhaps at the exact moment we were photographing our children (looking the best they will look all year long) holding their Pinterest-inspired first day of school signs.  We have already grudgingly readjusted to the strictures of routine and schedule and simultaneously given up caring what they look like when they go to school.  Nearly one month in to the school year, my boys left the house looking as if they had not brushed their hair in 4 days.  And last week I let them wear stripes on stripes.  Don’t judge. Read more...

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Not Everything Has To Be A Teachable Moment

Last week was a hard week to be a parent, especially to two little boys who love to watch football.

Everywhere you turned, someone was talking about the massive scandals involving several NFL players and their deplorable conduct.  On television.  In the newspapers.  In line at the grocery store.  I did everything in my power to shield them from all of it.  I didn’t even let them watch the NFL halftime shows on Sunday because I knew what the topic of discussion would be.

I suppose I could have told them a watered down version of events.  It is, after all, in vogue in the parenting world to turn every moment into a “teachable moment.”  I suppose we could have had a didactic discussion about whether employers should be able to fire you for your off-the-job conduct.  Or whether when you hold yourself out as a role model, you accept that you should be held to a higher standard. Read more...

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