How To Love Hard When It’s Hard

This is my week perfectly captured in one picture.
Bikes falling over love hard
It was one of those weeks that was derailed by too many deadlines and not enough time, high expectations followed by staggering disappointments, the pressure to do the things that were supposed to bring me joy and the realization that everything was making me unhappy. It was unfortunately also a week where my insomnia kicked into high gear, leaving me unable to rationally cope with all of those things.

Trying to salvage some good from the week, I went to buy 2 bikes for our Angel Tree angels. Just when I started to feel a little bit lighter, I accidentally knocked down a row of 20 bikes. Read more...

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A Love Letter to Preschool

06 10 15_0040 Yesterday my baby graduated from preschool.

I know he probably doesn’t look like a baby, with his shaggy hair and the new hole in his grin where a tooth used to be. But when I look at his face I don’t see the six year old boy that you do. I see the tiny wrinkly face of the newborn that nuzzled my shoulder in the wee hours of the night. I see the face covered in pureed carrots, the wobbly first steps he took in Palm Beach, the tear-streaked face that watched me walk out the door on his first day of preschool, the pain of skinned knees and blisters, the determination in his face before he threw his first spiral. Read more...

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Ten More Things That Are Not Cool About Getting Older

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10. Mail no longer consists solely of care packages, CDs from Columbia House, letters from your best friend dotted with hearts, and magazines containing quizzes guaranteed to tell you whether your crush du jour is indeed the man of your dreams.  Now your mail has nothing but bills, fliers for gutter cleaning, and quizzes from your financial advisor entitled “What Will College Cost When Your Child is 18?”  Do not, under any circumstances, EVER take this quiz.  It will scare you so badly you will actively root for your child to fail his second grade spelling test. 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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A month ago, I had the great pleasure of accompanying Jack’s class on a field trip to the Chrysler Museum.  As we were passing through Huber Court, Jack caught sight of my parents’ names etched in the marble wall and stopped mid-stride.  Oblivious to the boisterous chatter of his classmates fading into the glass gallery down the hall, Jack stood immobile.   And then he slowly reached out his hand.

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Silently I watched him run his fingers over the grooves in the marble, painstakingly tracing each letter in my father’s name.  I knew what he was doing.  He was willing himself to see and feel my father instead of just a name carved in the cold marble. Read more...

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Look at me, look at me!

06 16 14_0001Nearly every afternoon in the summer, you can find me in the pool.  Not at the pool.  In the pool.   With 8 kids lined up waiting patiently to jump to me.  Or 5 boys practicing the sweep the leg move from Karate Kid as they try to dunk me.  These kids range in age from 3 to 8 and sometimes I don’t know half of them.  I’m “the pool lady.”

Last year, there was a woman stretched out languidly on her chaise lounge, flipping through a magazine, in the area I affectionately call the “adult” section.  You know – the place where people go to relax and read and get a suntan.  The place you go when your kids start insisting on sitting at their own table.  Far away.  The place where dreams go to die as far as I’m concerned.  She looked up at me as one of the boys tackled me in the water, smiled a bless-your-heart kind of smile, and said “don’t worry, you’ll be over here with us soon enough.” Read more...

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To my little brother on the occasion of his engagement…

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The day that my little brother was born was the greatest day of my childhood.  In the interest of full disclosure, I should probably add that the other highlights of the day included a blizzard (a meteorological miracle in southeastern Virginia) and my grandparents arriving with an armload of presents for me because I was now a big sister.

The import of this new position was not lost on me.  I was, after all, four years old and in the heyday of playing mother to all my baby dolls.  And now I had a real one.  I fed him; I carried him; I fetched his toys; I read him books; I dressed him up in ridiculous ensembles.  When he developed his own language, I was the only one who could translate for him.  When he was in high school, I smuggled him into bars underage (gasp).  When he was in college and I was in law school, I did his laundry, fed him dinner, and took his bloody shirt (don’t ask) to the dry cleaners and explained that it was not, in fact, evidence from a crime scene.  In return, he has always loved me unconditionally, accepted every one of my many faults, and made me laugh when no one else could. Read more...

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Emily Post Would Be Appalled


To the 4 women who were in line at the Starbucks this morning,

I am speechless. Actually that’s the biggest lie I have ever told. I have so much to say that my mouth cannot keep up with my brain. I have never seen a bigger collection of ill-mannered, entitled, ungrateful, inconsiderate clowns in my life.

Keep in mind, for the last 7 years, I have spent all my waking hours with children. And before that I was an attorney litigating high stakes cases against the most arrogant plaintiffs’ attorneys in the world who would ROUTINELY say things like: “I’m sorry I am 2 hours late to this deposition – my private plane couldn’t get clearance to land.”  True. Story. Read more...

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When I was a kid, the end of the school year was brutal. I was ready for a languid, lazy summer by mid-April.  My brain, which generally fired on all 4 cylinders, was limping toward the finish line on a flat tire and a crappy suspension. The days were warm and my feet were sore.  The idea of finishing my diorama on Jamestown was more torturous than being trapped in a pit of snakes.

Turns out I still feel that way.

The moms who drove our carpool back then must have sensed this fatigue because at least once a week that last month of school, one of them would stop on the way home and get us Slurpees. Everyone had a favorite concoction. Mine was a Coke Slurpee with a thin layer of cherry in the middle. Read more...

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Ten Impossible Things I Want For My Birthday


Since my birthday and Mother’s Day are always within a few days of each other, it’s that time of year when my family hounds me incessantly about what they can get me. My answer is always “a card.” Because once you hit the age of 35, you spend all your time trying to get shit OUT of your house. This is usually an exercise in futility but at least I can try to stem the tide of more stuff coming in. (Except for the stuff I’ve already gotten of course. I love all that stuff. Really). Read more...

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Guess Hooooo’s going to Greensboro?

Some girls dream of jewelry or exotic vacations.  Some dream of giant closets filled with shoes.  Some dream of being movie stars or CEOs.

But me, I dream of ACC Tournament tickets. And now I have ’em. So I will be there to cheer on my Wahoos, in my lucky orange pants, while Billy and the boys pretend not to know me.

I started packing today and had the damndest time trying to decide which of our Hoogalia to bring.  Because there is a lot.  6 pairs of orange pants, 3 pairs blue corduroy pants, 1 pair orange AND blue pants, 4 orange sweaters, 1 blue and white polka dot shirt, 3 navy blue polos, 312 orange and/or blue button downs, 9 virginia tshirts, 4 orange and blue striped shirts.  And that’s just the tip of the iceberg… Read more...

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Wolfman Jack

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Sometimes Jack gets blue that his blisters will prevent him from even getting the chance to score the go-ahead touchdown or winning basket. As a parent, it is heartbreaking to see your child limited not by his talent, but by some genetic flaw that you passed down to him.

So it’s crazy cool to have moments like this . . . when he finds his groove in a different arena. It’s doubly cool for me since that arena is the same stage on which I performed 20 years ago.


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Risk…it ain’t just a board game

Childhood is filled with risk.  Every.  Damn.  Second. And it is all exhilarating, whether it be taking your first steps, going to school for the first time, or jumping off the highest jungle gym ever. As you navigate through the murky waters of adolescence, you begin to appreciate that part of risk is the chance that you will lose.  You will fall flat on your face and it will hurt.  But still you are filled with that spirit of invincibility that makes it possible to try out for the team, to fall in love with someone who might not love you back, to apply to college, to live on your own for the first time. As adults, the only acceptable use of risk is in a discussion with your investment advisor about midcaps versus foreign funds.  And that is not cowardice or complacency.  That is just reality.  You have a mortgage, a job, children, sick parents, tuition payments. Risk is dangerous. But every now and then, a beautiful risk presents itself. And I am so proud of Billy for taking it.  A chance to step away from the soft security of routine and embrace the exhilaration again.  A chance to work with two unbelievably creative, fun and brilliant friends (well, three if you count your part-time wife) doing unbelievably creative, fun, brilliant things.   A chance to spend more time with us.   A chance so perfect that it isn’t actually a risk at all. Congratulations Billy. Welcome to the first day of the rest of your life…
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Do you know what the street value of this stuff is?

Snow that is.

Growing up in coastal Virginia was hard if you like cold and snow.  Inevitably every time a snowstorm came anywhere near, a magic force field would go up around Tidewater, thus causing us to get only rain while the rest of the East Coast got 8 inches. I probably should have moved to Minnesota but I’m a Virginia girl at heart.

When Jack was three, we had a humdinger of a snowstorm.  Around here, we call it a once in a lifetime storm.  Because it will literally only happen once in your lifetime.  Twice if you’re lucky.  The following year, he asked me when the snow was coming.  And like a true native of southern Virginia, I cocked my head and sympathetically said “oh honey, we probably won’t get snow for another 5 years.”  Damned if we didn’t get snow that year too.  And the year after that.  And the year after that.  So now my boys have a completely distorted opinion of winters in a coastal town. Read more...

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