A Partial List of What We Found When We Cleaned out the Minivan for the Back-to-School Carpool


A dead scorpion

Seventeen empty water bottles

Five rolls of Scotch tape

Half a bag of melted gummy bears



Markers without lids, lids without markers, none that matched

Two remotes to two different broken DVD players

Diapers, new and used

Kleenex, new and used

Bubble gum, new and used

Six tubs of baby wipes, none of which can ever be located when changing an actual baby

Half a sandwich


Stickers on the windows

Handprints on the windows

Footprints on the windows

Tongue prints on the windows

Enough preschool artwork to fill an exhibit entitled: “How My Parents Did Not Love Me Enough to Keep My Preschool Artwork”


One explosively rancid applesauce pouch

One tooth, probably human, unlikely ours

One baby seat completely unanchored to its adult host seat

A pickle










What’s Mine Is Theirs

We have a lot of toothbrushes.  Even though only five of us have teeth, I counted six near my bathroom sink alone.  I did not count the sandy one in the bathtub or the blue one on the floor.

My brush is yellow.  It is often damp when I reach for it before bed.  I never thought much about this, until tonight, when I glanced in the bathroom and saw Katie loading it up with paste.

“Hey, that’s my toothbrush!” I yelled.

“No, it’s MY toothbrush!” she replied.  “How long have you been using it?”

“I have used it since I bought it,” I said, “for ME.  How long have YOU been using it?”

Katie shrugged, “Maybe a month or two.”  Then she turned away and started brushing.

I’m not sure what bothered me most: that she had been using it for so long or that I hadn’t noticed until now.

Guess I’m using the one on the floor tonight.


Kids are gross.



Our Trained Monkey

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Lessons Learned inside an Ear

Lizzie has had an ear infection for nearly a week. We tried riding it out. We tried an antibiotic. If we can’t get ahead of this thing by tomorrow, we’ll be off to an ENT to get her ear suctioned.

It happens.

Except today was her birthday. Her fifth birthday, the first one celebrated here in California, and a day she has been looking forward to for months. The poor kid spent it on the couch. She said ‘No thanks’ to a visit to the candy store, and rejected a trip to the Santa Monica pier. Instead, she cuddled with her stuffed kitty, Whiskers, watched movies she had already seen, and napped.

All things considered, it was a pretty bogus birthday.

But tonight, when Katie asked, “Was today one of your best birthdays ever?” Lizzie nodded. I looked at her face for confirmation, and she was smiling. She and her sister listed today’s good points:

Lizzie requested and received oatmeal for breakfast.

She opened presents from her aunt, uncle, and grandparents, and her sister gave her a bracelet and a unicorn t-shirt.

Lizzie got to drink half a cup of Sprite to wash the taste of medicine out of her mouth.

Dad came home early from work and they snuggled.

We all sang “Happy Birthday” and ate pumpkin pie.

Lizzie blew out the candles the moment she saw them, and she wore that unicorn t-shirt all day long. We rented no bounce houses and hosted no friends. It was just us here at the house with Lizzie.

I was sad most of the day thinking about all she was missing, but it turned out that Lizzie was happy most of the day thinking about all that she has.

Happy birthday, my sweet little mouse.  lizzie5thbirthday


New Post on HuffPo Today


Another Game We Probably Shouldn’t Let Them Play…


Walking Henry



Embrace Later

We live in a world of immediacy.

Just do it.

Seize the moment.

Why put off until tomorrow what you can do today?

But parenthood is all about laters, not-nows, and tomorrows. Both for the kids and for us.

I microwaved my cup of coffee so many times today that it became funny. Every time I went to take a sip, someone pooped or screamed or cried.

Ken turned to me at dinner and said, “I was going to tell you something important, and now I’m too tired to remember what it was.”

Raising kids is a kind of blessed torture. There is no immediate end in sight.

Sure, there are some cool days: the first soccer goal; the first bike ride; the first caught fish. But without the kids, those days probably would have been pretty cool anyway. Us married, but childless, kicking around South America or maybe relaxing on a cruise.

Plus, with kids, there are all these really stupid days, days when even the simplest endeavor – ducking into the supermarket or driving home from church — is excruciating.

CHILD 1: “Dad, you have to roll down the window. I can’t breathe back here.”

Dad rolls down the window.

CHILD 2: “I’m freezing.”

Dad rolls up the window.

CHILD 1: “Seriously, I can’t breathe.”

Rolls it down.

CHILD 2: “I can’t feel my toes. I’m so cold.”

Rolls it up.

All the way home.

The only way to get through a lifetime of days like this, or at least twenty or so years of days like these, is to be willing to put off until tomorrow what you were quite simply unable to do today.

Even drinking a cup of coffee.

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On Being the Fat Girl at the Gym

Looking around, I realize I should have done my hair. This is not an exercise class. It is an audition. And I am bombing.

Can I run a mile? All at once? No.

I’m sorry, did you say twenty push-ups? How about three?

Chin-ups? Definitely not. But if you slide over that janitor’s bucket, I bet I can hang from the bar.

I can tell by the look on the trainer’s face, she wishes I would go home. If I asked to buy a shirt with the gym logo on it, she would probably pretend they were out of my size. That is, if they even stock my size.

It is no fun being the fatty at the gym.

In ten years as a mom, I have gained and lost hundreds of pounds. When I am pregnant, I eat too much cake. When I am breastfeeding, I sport triple Ds. But I have weaned my last baby and donated my maternity clothes. The yo-yo of pregnancy weight gain and loss is over (I hope). I am ready to reclaim my body. Except this gym doesn’t seem interested in my kind of body at all.

On the membership application, there should be a disclaimer: Don’t join this gym until you first join another gym to prepare you for this gym.

Despite the rowing machines and the multitude of dumbbells, this is not a place to get in shape. This is a place where people who are already in shape come to work out. It is a place for beautiful people to congregate and look awesome together. Don’t get me wrong: I would love to be a member of this club.

Except I can’t. I am never going to be a size zero. I wear jeans with an elastic waistband. They wear cross back halters and bedazzled yoga pants. I am happy when I find shorts that don’t chafe my thighs. I am the sweatiest person in here by a factor of ten. And I only did seven crunches.

A little shame isn’t a bad thing. Sometimes it can be helpful to work out with folks who embody the goals I have for myself. But my gym mates all appear to be on perpetual juice cleanses. It would be nice to walk in and lift with someone who looks like me, someone else battling her way back from the baby-making brink.

So big women of the world, unite. I don’t care if your belly jiggles or your butt sags. Find the sexiest, coolest gym you can, and go there with gusto. And if you happen to live in Southern California, I will meet you there. I will be the one in the corner with frizzy hair and sweat rings down my back, but I promise to make you look good. I will pace you during the mile run and give you a boost to reach that chin-up bar. No one should have to do this alone.


Thank you

To the juggler we watched yesterday afternoon for halting his flaming club trick when 2-year-old Henry climbed up and ran across the stage.


Movie Night at the Park

We got there early.  We found the perfect spot.  We set up blankets.


And they slept through the whole thing.