And that’s how mom always ends up the hero

lemonade standLast night, Mike and I stayed up to attend a late night dog round up where our kid was head dog rustler. Or maybe it was rodeo clown. I can’t always tell with these things, but whatever. Gainful employment for a twelve year-old boy isn’t always easy to come by.

Not long ago Colin would regularly set up a lemonade stand in front of our house and sit in the summer heat under our patio umbrella, waving at passing cars. I still have a collection of hand-lettered signs stowed behind our bedroom dresser. (more…)

Summer in the whipping by age

river_funI have a little confession to make: despite the amount of complaining I do about summer, about working from home surrounded by unproductive kids and their dirty dishes, about feeling like I’m having a stroke every time I run outside, I actually love summer.

I love dinner on a patio with misters and fans going full blast. I love long walks in the evening when it’s light until ten. I love concerts in the park and sundresses and pedicures and weird sunburns left on that spot on my shoulder I missed with the sunscreen. I love the smell of the neighbor’s barbecue fired up, and spontaneous trips to the snow cone shack.

But here a full third of this summer has passed, and I haven’t had a chance to really lean into it. We started with that mad dash toward the end of the school year, and its ridiculous amount of activity, and it seemed like everyone’s kids were graduating all at once, and then there was the family road trip of the century, and our exchange student’s mother came to stay with us. When she and her daughter left, a former exchange student arrived with her boyfriend for a visit. (more…)

The shoe thing is complicated

DC89 - [ Infliction ] - Damnation Pumps - Black

No, these aren’t mine. I can’t even look at these without winching a little.

Yesterday was the kind of day that called for my butt-kicking black pumps. I needed to deliver bad news at one meeting, cope with unrealistic expectations at another, then pep talk someone out of a little funk. My shoes gave me extra swagger, showing people I wasn’t messing around.

And then, like always, the things turned on me. Bitches.

Generally speaking, if I’m wearing my black pumps it’s to make an impression. And I’m going to pay for it. Just like Cinderella, if I’m not making a hasty adieu after a certain period of time in heels, there’s change a’coming. I can go from fabulous to frump in seconds. From the moment I slip those suckers on and I’m suddenly a female Samuel L. Jackson, a clock is ticking down to a time when I’ll be limping around on what feels like bloody nubs, whining like a lost puppy. (more…)

There isn’t any ice cream in Death Valley

So, it’s the time of year we have this kind of action.

IMG_3126This is weather that inspires everybody to crank down the AC until it’s reminiscent of a Minnesota winter and we’re all wearing sweaters to meetings and complaining about the heat. Which I think, if you look it up, is the clinical definition of “cracked in the head.”

But I’m no doctor, so don’t take my word for it. (more…)

The Things Dads Say

dad_daughterI was at a friend’s party some time ago when someone noticed a rather meaty-looking cobweb hanging from a light fixture, and said something about not wanting to run into the spider that had spun it.

“It’s just a cobweb,” I said, authoritatively, “they’re made from dust, not spiders.”

I don’t remember if I punctuated that statement with a highly creative and mature-sounding duuuh, but I probably did.

I do remember conversation coming to a standstill and everyone looking at me like I was drunk.

Most likely, my misconception about cobwebs and their connection to actual arachnids was not my fault. It probably came from a day when someone wanted me to practice piano like I was supposed to, and not whine about how scary and cobwebby our unfinished family room-slash-piano-storage-space was.

The most likely origin of this weird belief is the person in my life whose factoids usually went without question. My Dad. (more…)

If you need me, I’ll be in the yard

I Fought The Lawn ... And The Lawn Won

My lawn care workforce is currently on strike, but I think it’s going to be okay.

Saturday afternoon, I watched Colin struggle to adjust the line on the weed whacker for the hundredth time. Somehow he cannot master the art of gently tapping the thing against the ground just enough to get the line to feed out. Instead, he slams it with the force of a WWF wrestler, and jams it up. Every. Single. Time. Then he has to take the thing apart and put it back together.

He wouldn’t ask for help. He struggled with it for a while before proclaiming trimming an official pointless waste of time of which he’d have none, then moved on to mowing. (more…)

Travel with Teens: Road Trip Tips

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Hiking up to Hidden Falls at Jenny Lake, Grand Teton National Forest

If you’ve been with me the past couple of posts, you know we just wrapped up our Epic Family Summer Road Trip. At one point we took a shuttle boat across a lake and a short, guided hike up a mountain to see a secluded waterfall. The scenery took my breath away, but something else also caught my attention.

Along for the hike was a family with three little girls. They were well behaved, but also talkative and precocious. There was little whining but lots of activity.

They reminded me of when our family was younger. Our boys would have charged up the trail, all arms and legs and loud voices. If we were lucky, they’d maintain their enthusiasm long enough to complete our hike without complaint. Their dad and I would have been on constantly our guard lest someone shove his brother into a stream, or a bug into his mouth, wander off the path, or collect handfuls of rocks to be found later, rattling in the dryer. We would have fielded endless questions, stepped off the trail repeatedly to root around in a backpack for snacks, reminded people to keep hats on, hands to themselves, voices down. (more…)

Rocks or kids, which do you think is easier to photograph?

A selfie in Old Faithful Lodge

A selfie in Old Faithful Lodge

If you’re just joining us, this is the final installment in our somewhat-epic summer journey to Yellowstone, in which I
fervently hope we have a bear encounter that ends up well enough for us as well as the bear and whatever we happen to be driving. You can start here, and the whole set up to this trip is here and here.

If yesterday’s adventures were about encounters with blurry animals, today was about stuff that was, thankfully, a little more stationary, therefore easier to photograph.

That is if you don’t count the fact that my kids won’t stand still for a picture.

Since the road to Old Faithful was out yesterday, we took a road by the Grand Canyon instead, heading up to the north end of the park where we’d be staying in Gardiner, Montana. (more…)

I’d be a killer wildlife marmet photographer

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Lower Falls of the Yellowstone Grand Canyon

If you’re just joining us, this is the third installment in our somewhat-epic summer journey to Yellowstone, in which I
fervently hope we have a bear encounter that ends up well enough for us as well as the bear and whatever we happen to be driving. You can start here, and the whole set up to this trip is here and here.

People told us we were smart to come through Yellowstone this early in the season. We’d avoid the crowds, they said.

Good thing, too, because it doesn’t feel a lot like Yellowstone planned for crowds when things like roads and restrooms and pull-offs were installed back in the day. It really doesn’t feel like anybody anticipated busloads of Japanese tourists, when installing mountain roads with exactly zero shoulder on which to pull over and observe the wildlife, I must say. (more…)

The Grand Tetons, with a serious lack of bears

IMG_2882If you’re just joining us, this is the second installment in our somewhat-epic summer journey to Yellowstone, in which I fervently hope we have a bear encounter that ends up well enough for us as well as the bear and whatever we happen to be driving. You can binge-read the whole series here.

We were discussing bear encounter survival techniques on the way out of town this morning and realized we’re all a little confused about how one is supposed to react when running into a bear. One site recommends stopping whatever it is you’re doing to assess the situation, and then identifying yourself by speaking in a calm, appeasing tone. (more…)