It is a cruel world we live in, when the time for sleep is never the time we want it to be. Ever.             There are, of course, exceptions, but speaking from my own personal experience, I’m not sure I’ve ever really been able to go to sleep exactly when I wanted. I can’t remember a single time (although I also can’t remember what I had for dinner last night) that I’ve had the pleasure of announcing, “I’m tired. I’m going to bed and no one or nothing is going to stop me.”             As tiny infants we know no better and haven’t yet adjusted to any sort of schedule. After living in darkness for all of our lives, we suddenly find ourselves with lights and sun and lovely people who are trying to train us to sleep at times when we really don’t want to, but aren’t sure why.             As toddlers and preschoolers, we start to slowly learn about all of the fun things we are missing when those big, lovely people make us go to bed. We may not understand anything like

Pepe le Pew and Cupid, too

            Phenology is the study of seasonal natural phenomena, especially in relation to climate and plant and animal life. Watching the way nature changes with the calendar can be a neat way to track the world and make ridiculous comparisons and conclusions about fragrant animals, diapered babies and bow and arrows, and old cartoons characters with a French accent.             Living in Ohio, we never know what the weather in February will bring. We can assume snow, but even the most astute student of phenology will tell you that weather (not climate) is not what makes most things in nature happen.             So I go to two reliable signs of February: Love and skunks.             I’m sure everyone will agree that February is the month of love, with the whole big candy-filled Valentine’s Day smack dab in the middle of it. But skunks?               If you don’t believe me that February is the month of skunk, think back over the past few weeks… you’ve smelled a skunk, have

The world's greatest soup

            The story itself reads like a fable or a twisted children’s book that ends up with the entire town dining on soup. In reality, it ended up in our basement freezer where just our family had the pleasure of dining on it for months to come.             My mother and I were away at Girl Scout camp, and my father, left to tend to his own needs, decided to make us a pot of Hamburg’ Soup (we always left off the “er”) to celebrate our week away in the woods fighting mosquitos, mice, and raccoons. Like any great chef or soup connoisseur, no recipe was needed. He just started digging in the fridge and the pantry and throwing things in the pot.             A handful of this, a pinch of that. And then he’d taste it and think, “Boy, this could use some [whatever].” And in that would go, followed by a repeat of the last few steps until he had added so many things that it no longer fit in one pot.             So he got out another.             By the time we got home, there wer

Old mom, new tricks

            If you add up the ages of all of my children, I’ve been a mom for almost 38 years, which is almost as long as I’ve been on this Earth. You might think that I have most things figured out. I know I did. But as it turns out, you’re never too old a mom to learn new tricks.             This tip came from the brilliant family of the child who has the locker next to my oldest daughter. Both freshmen in high school, one day my daughter saw him pull a girly lunchbox out of his bookbag. There must have been an exchange of expressions and the explanation followed.             “I forgot my lunchbox at school yesterday so my mom packed my lunch in this princess Lunchbox of Shame. I’m never going to forget it at school again.”             Upon hearing this story, my eyes got wide and I probably stood there, mouth agape, wondering why I hadn’t thought of this long, long ago. While our children are pretty good at remembering to bring their lunch boxes home, they are terrible at r

Monday routines

            I used to make fun of my Grandparents.             My Grandma would tell anyone who asked, “Your Grandpa gets up at 6:30. He takes his walk, gets the newspaper, makes coffee, and works the crossword puzzle. I get up at 8:00. By that time he’s mostly done with the puzzle and have my coffee and toast--just the heel of the bread.”             She could lay out their entire day, right down to when she would lay out my Grandpa’s Pj’s. They loved their routine.             I, on the other hand, would listen to her story for the seventy-second time and scream to myself in my head that I would never let a routine tie down my life! I will live freely and day-by-day, wherever the wind takes me! Life’s an adventure! And so on and so forth, until I got tired of speaking in exclamation points to myself.             But then, my school-aged children began having Mondays off for holidays.             I may not be quite where my Grandparents were, but I like to refer to Monday