His Mother’s Name Was: Reflections from a Family Vacation

A few weeks ago we took a family vacation to Washington, D.C. It’s a trip we promised our youngest daughter for her ninth birthday, and because my old college roommate works as a Legislative Director in Congress, we surprised her with a private tour of the United States Capitol. “Dear Federal Government,” I joked on Facebook the day before we left, the day the recent government shutdown ended, “Thank you for reopening just in time […]

Dried Up, Spent, and Empty

We start our day too early and with too much to do, when granola bars pass as breakfast and pajamas make acceptable around-town attire. My kids and I drive to the doctor’s office for a nine o’clock appointment, and while I’m congratulating myself for actually remembering to schedule my daughter’s wellness check this year (unlike last), the secretary tells me after we arrive that our insurance won’t pay for the visit. The trip’s not a […]


She asks to spend Saturday at the mall, so you go. You weave your way through the traffic and the busy parking lots, the weekend crowds and the clothing racks until you find her the perfect back-to-school outfit. The sales are over and your coupons invalid, but a mother’s word never expires. You’ve been promising her this shopping trip for weeks. You sit down for lunch and she orders her favorite and you talk about everything and nothing over chicken fingers […]

The Wrong Done Against Us: A Marriage and Mercy Story

Our old dog, Murphy, is dying. He hasn’t eaten in days, he can barely walk, and the vet confirms that his heart and kidneys are failing. He’s lived a long, full life, I tell my husband, and I urge him to put the last of our three dogs down. But my husband’s not ready. “You can try giving him an antacid,” the vet suggests as a last resort. “It might increase his appetite.” So he […]

Running Against the Wind

We’ve been running together a lot lately. She’s on the middle school cross country team this fall, and she always asks me to join her on her weekend runs. I try to contain my enthusiasm. She’s at a precarious age. Show too much encouragement, and she’ll completely give up. Not enough, and it’s all my fault and the world’s definitely going to end. The guy who walked across the Grand Canyon on a two-inch tight rope […]

We Can Do Better

Someone unfriended me on Facebook this morning. I’m not surprised. Our friendship ended in real time months ago; today she just made it official, like it’s the electronic equivalent of slamming the door in my face.  I can handle this cruel and final gesture, and all the emotional havoc this relationship has wreaked on me recently, but I hate how garbage like this trickles down to our daughters, how their dysfunctional friendships are often a reflection of our own. And as I’ve […]

The Honey Bee Crusade

Rainey’s been studying honey bees lately, on account of the hive we have hidden in our backyard, and because a few weeks ago, in the middle of the afternoon, a swarm of them hovered above her head while she and her younger brother played outside. “Thousands of bees are all over the backyard,” Rainey hollered when they dashed inside to take cover. And sure enough, when I looked out the back door, I saw a thick cloud of bees buzzing midair, about forty feet […]