I’m not sure how many light bulbs were broken before it occurred to me. “Don’t they make shatter-resistant light bulbs?” I’m going to guess about forty. Forty light bulbs were smashed into tiny bits and swept up off the floor–probably more. But never completely, of course. You can never get each sliver of glass. You always miss a few.

(Now that we have no more glass dishes, we have also decided to lock our cabinet doors.)

I can’t wait for that box of light bulbs to get here. I become angry every time I hear the familiar sound of broken glass coming from the next room. She’s so quick. And there she’ll be, giggling as if she has never been more pleased with herself. I remain calm, sweep up the glass, and repeat for the millionth time: “Do not touch light bulbs. Because you touched the light bulb, you will not have any Pop Tarts today.”

This is when she throws herself into a crying fit and begins to request Pop Tarts on an endless loop; specifically requesting the confetti cupcake flavor, which we do not have. In fact, I cannot find them at all this month, and fear they have discontinued the flavor. (We had a minor setback when Kellogg’s decided to discontinue the peanut butter and jelly ones, but I imagine confetti cupcake will be a much more dramatic loss since it is featured in one of her favorite YouTube videos).

Occasionally she will unscrew a light bulb, set it on the table, and wait… like she’s hiding an Easter egg for us. She just wants us to know that she could have broken it.  Continue reading

Mr. Blue Sky

I woke up this morning to day three of being sick. No end in sight. It’s funny how being sick changes the filter on our world. Suddenly preserving my voice has taken the top spot on my priorities list, and scraping up enough money for cough drops and herbal tea is more important than the electric bill.

I already can’t remember what it felt like to breathe without that sound in my chest. Is the need to hear it over and over part of my tendency toward compulsion…does everyone swallow this much when their throat hurts? Maybe.

It isn’t like a stomach virus, of course. I can still go about my day. A stomach virus will make everything else disappear entirely, until it’s only you and the sickness.

While driving to work this morning, I was feeling mostly pissed off about the cough that continues to shred my vocal cords. So I did what I always do when I am stressed, and distracted myself with some music. I recently discovered I can lower my heart rate if I listen to Rubber Soul. It must be the magic of comfort music, or something like that. It isn’t rocket science. But I didn’t put on Rubber Soul this morning, or Revolver (which is only slightly better, I think), because I wanted to be surprised. So I picked a station on Amazon Music, and hoped for the best.  Continue reading

Come Back Later. We’re Temporarily Invisible.

I wasn’t sure I would post anything at all this month. But here I am, only two days past my deadline. Lately I can’t shake the feeling of dread that comes with sharing. I want to take it all back. Everything. The invitation into our world, the social media posts, the things I have written on other topics in other public spaces…all of it.

In a thousand different ways, and in a thousand different moments, I have handed out pieces of myself to a mixed audience. Both in public, and during my daily routine. My humor, heart, stupidity, brilliance, and even cruelty–offered to true friends, fake friends, and strangers. And now it’s all part of my permanent record.

I want to go back to being a mystery. I want to go back to being the nice girl who only occasionally expressed herself through vague lyrics.

Don’t worry. I’ll change my mind.

I know it’s better to have a few people love and support me for who I truly am, than to have many people feel politely drawn to me based on their best guess. And I am slowly learning to stop being so available to “friends” who want me to feel unsure about myself. I am trying to figure out how to throw the invisibility cloak on them, instead.

For the moment, I don’t want there to be places where someone can find me. So how do I offer an update on our lives in this frame of mind?  Continue reading

Crying Over Spilled Milk

We keep our refrigerator locked for one simple reason: broken eggs. Few things please our daughter more than seeing how many eggs she can throw across the room before we stop her; and it only takes one egg left unnoticed on the rug a little too long to inspire a lock and key situation.

Without regular egg-breaking stimulation, she has been forced to supplement her addiction with broken glass. She’s so quick. In the time it takes to blink, she’ll seize her window of opportunity and sprint into action. We have no drinking glasses left. One bowl. Three plates. When she enters a room you can see her eyes scanning the scene, choosing her target. Anything breakable will do, and if that isn’t available, she is always happy to push a drink off the table.  Continue reading

A Post About Vomit (Even This Title Makes Me Panic)

I had been looking forward to fifth grade camp since kindergarten. Every May, for one week, the halls of Kellogg elementary school became significantly quieter in the absence of an entire grade on vacation. My brother, sister, and even my mom had gone before me. I knew exactly what to expect. As the day approached I had no nerves; I was excited, as if Christmas vacation had come twice.

Early Monday morning we boarded the school buses and traveled to Clear Lake Camp. Upon arrival, the boys and girls were separated and sent to our dorms to claim our bunks. Our dorm was a building with three sleeping wings, and a common area with bathrooms. I chose a top bunk in the north wing and discarded my duffel bag.

They separated our home room classes into teams. Our class was called the Kirtland’s Warblers. In the dining hall they divided us into even smaller groups at assigned tables. After each meal, a chosen member of our table would collect all of our food waste, where it would be weighed and compared with the waste of every other table. At the end of the week the table with the lightest amount of waste would be awarded a prize.

We spent most of our days doing nature-related and/or team-building activities. We were each asked to write about our favorite experience for a scrapbook we received later. I wrote about how much I enjoyed the trust fall and team obstacle course. (Clearly I had no idea how much I would hate this type of thing as an adult.)

After lights out, a recording of the book “A Wrinkle in Time” was piped over the speakers. A few months earlier I had been sentenced to a week of going to bed an hour early after stealing a dollar from my brother, and I was allowed to keep the light on for that hour if I read a book. This was the book I had chosen, and I loved it. I could hardly contain my excitement that first night when I learned I would get to listen to it in bed all week.  Continue reading

Welcome to IEP Season. What’s Under That Slide?

My daughter was late getting home yesterday because her school bus was in a minor accident. There are no more than a half-dozen special needs students who ride this bus, and there was a substitute driver. Apparently one of the kids slapped the driver, causing the bus to drive off the road. There were no injuries, but enough damage to the bus that a replacement was needed.

I’m just happy to have heard about it. They don’t always contact us when her bus is going to be late getting home. More than once they have had to pull over to safely deal with behavior issues, and I never feel completely sure what’s going on. Or how qualified the driver and aids are in handling these situations.

In the past, her school has been quick to notify us of any incident taking place during the school day. At least, as far as I know. Do I know? I have received phone calls over simple bumps and bruises; or an occasional assault from another student. And of course we all remember the time she managed to escape the school entirely.

(Reading all that makes me feel more than a little nervous.)  Continue reading

Traditions for the New Year

I don’t know when I stopped buying sparkling grape juice on New Year’s Eve, but I am sure I was well past the age of 21. Traditions are hard to break. And that isn’t a bad thing.

It had never occurred to me that anyone could buy sparkling grape juice whenever they wanted to…why would that be necessary? It was “champagne for children;” and was meant to be sipped from plastic champagne flutes while adults drank the real stuff. At least, that’s what my experience had taught me.

I can’t remember adults drinking champagne outside of New Year’s Eve and weddings. Every other day of the year found them guzzling beer, wine, various mixed drinks—but champagne was special. Which meant sparkling grape juice was special. And if you only drink something once a year, on the exact same day each year, it becomes a tradition of the most serious kind.  Continue reading

Don’t You Want More Children?


If you wait long enough, some life decisions will be made for you. Career, marriage, children… where we will live. Practically anything can be decided by procrastination. Maybe everything isn’t what I imagined for myself when I was young. Some things have exceeded my expectations, and other things took a wrong turn that was completely out of my control. But for the most part, I am on the right path now, and I know exactly what I want.

Except for one topic.

Over the holiday, a conversation reminded me that we have made no decisions about having more children. I say “reminded” me, because I don’t think about it at all anymore – I just go about my days, oblivious to the thing that once dominated my every thought. But somewhere in the back of my mind I am aware that we have not really settled this matter. We are both officially in our forties, and Teghan is about to turn nine. Has the decision already been made for us? 

Continue reading

8000 Days Later


It was on a Sunday afternoon in late October, 1994, when I knew I would marry my husband. Which was strange, because I had woken up that morning feeling relieved that it was finally over between us.

It had been all wrong. I was eighteen years old and had only known Dave for three months. We were touring together in a musical group with a strict rule against dating. We each called a different state home, and neither of us had ever lived on our own before. To make matters worse, Dave had a girlfriend away at college. He could not live with the guilt of falling for me, and I was not interested in being the other woman. Besides, I had plans for my life that made letting go of him inevitable.

That month of October was the most exciting and heartbreaking time in my life. When we realized we both had feelings for each other, we had built up too much tension to act reasonably. We fell hard and we lost our minds a little. Then came reality. The guilt. The long talks. What were we doing? All the while we were traveling the country with eight other people who were oblivious to what was happening between us.   Continue reading

Seasons Came and Changed the Time


We finally made it to the beach. Better late than never, but we aren’t exactly overwhelmed with lake options around here. When it comes to the difference between a summer in Michigan and a summer in Central Illinois—this detail tops the list. Especially for a little girl who asks to go swimming no less than fifteen times a day.

So we spent Labor Day weekend in Michigan, where lakes are so plentiful that we managed to get over an hour with the beach entirely to ourselves on a holiday weekend. This happened partly because the weather was cooler than usual; but mostly because when the locals realize summer is ending, they make that extra forty-minute drive to Lake Michigan.

We avoided Lake Michigan.

No matter how much Teghan loves the beach, crowds make her anxious. Which makes us anxious. And, she steals things. One moment she’s playing in the water…the next moment she’s playing in the water with a bag of chips in her hand. Where did those come from? Most parents are familiar with the panic that accompanies the knowledge that your child has taken another child’s food, or worse—is eating random garbage. It’s cute when a toddler does it. People understand. I’m here to tell you, the panic becomes amplified as your child ages.

(Our daughter has also never passed a straw she didn’t attempt to put her mouth on; which is always embarrassing, and sometimes gross. At some point during our holiday weekend she drank from an abandoned cup she found in a downtown park. Literally anything could have been in that cup.)

But this was one of the most relaxing beach trips we have ever had. For the first time, we got to be the parents who just sit on a blanket and watch, without worry, as our child plays in the water. No darting off into the wilderness, or suspicious gazes toward someone else’s ice cream for us to patrol. It was easy. Fun, even. The way beach trips are meant to be.  Continue reading