Showing posts from September, 2013

The unfolding of an RV trip

Apparently we took an RV trip when I was a young child, but my only recollection is running out of gas on the highway somewhere in Tennessee and standing on the side of the road, completely afraid for my life. My next memory of a camper is the one parked in the driveway of my childhood friend, Liz’s, house.  I don’t even think it was theirs, but it was there and we would go in and play house and her mom served us roast beef deli meat sandwiches with A1 sauce on them, something I had never had before.  This luxurious adventure had definitely turned around my opinion of the house on wheels, not to mention opened up a whole new flavor profile for lunchmeat. As an adult I admit the fascination has always continued, and so when my family decided on a summer vacation this year, we wanted to fulfill our dream of RVing out west.  The thought of only having to unpack suitcases once as we traveled between parks and cooking family favorite meals on a tiny stove next to a tiny refrigerator a

Our great National Parks

I really thought I was doing a part of my civil duty—showing our children a few of the great national parks that speckle our country.  They are jewels of amazement that are, if you think about things in the scope of the world, right in our backyard.  And so we flew out west, rented an RV, and headed out to see the sights. And what sights they were.   My husband and I have never been to the Grand Canyon before, and we wanted to make sure we gave our kids the experience while they were the right age: old enough to remember and young enough not to think we were totally dorky parents.  I think for their sake, we hit it just right.  But for my sake, it was incredible.   They say the Grand Canyon is a fantastic hole in the ground, but I will tell you that upon walking up to it for the very first time, I got a little choked up.  I don’t know that I have ever seen such amazing beauty, so vast and powerful.  Even as a writer, I was without words when someone asked me about my first view

Give five minutes to the goose

According to some silly books that I’ve read, the Canada Goose excretes nearly two pounds of feces every day.  A fairly reliable source states that it poops every 12 minutes.  This may all sound very mathematical, because I know you are sitting there calculating how many times per day and how much per release, but really, that’s not what my story is all about. The street where I live is an add combination of wild and suburbia.  We’ve had our fair share of misplaced critters, and though they seem to be diminishing with development, geese have started setting up camp and becoming our official neighbors. The Canada Goose as it is called, is a rather pesky bird.  It is interesting to research that after the Civil War, the honking bird was all but gone from the state of Ohio and in 1956, a mere 10 nesting pairs were introduced by the Division of Wildlife.  In just a few decades, they multiplied and multiplied and realized that golf courses and subdivisions were the ultimate slap in

Dishing up a life sandwich

When I tell people that I write a column in the newspaper, they always ask me the same question.  “What do you write about?” I suppose they are looking for an answer like fitness.  Or cooking.  Or politics.  But I always disappoint them and say, “well, I just write about stuff,” and they stare blankly back at me, as if I stopped mid-sentence. “You know,” I say, in poor attempt to elaborate, “I write about stuff that happens to me or my kids or the silly stuff my husband does, or how the dog puked all night.  Stuff like that.  So basically, life.” And it’s true.  I write about life. Usually my words appear somewhere in the newspaper near where you find other standard life items.  There may be club news and stories that tug your heartstrings.  But there are also other sections that make my job in this paper a little sweeter.   The whole circle of life appears right there, in one short little condensed place on a piece of paper so thin that if left to the elements would disapp

Benefits of Barefoot, a Shoe-free Summer

It happens about this time every year, when the wisdom of my grandfather and my mother tells me that Mother’s Day has passed and it’s finally safe to plant a garden and embrace life in the flower beds.  The leaves have nearly fully sprouted and the grass goes from its spikey dormant self to a lush carpet that needs to be mowed every other day or else small children and dogs will be lost by walking out the back door. It’s the magic of spring, which is truly a gateway to the vigor of summer, which for me means that for the next few months, my short fingernails are allowed to be dirty and shoes are only required where that little sign hangs on the door, refusing service.  Because as soon as it’s close to possible, we don’t wear shoes.  I won’t say that that is my favorite thing about summer living in Ohio, but it ranks right up there.  Sure, it’s no pie and ice cream, but here are some convincing arguments for ditching your shoes and wiggling your toes in the summer sun. Cut the clu

Enough room for love

Of all of the misused and overused words in the world, one of the biggest culprits is the word that is on everyone’s mind this time of the year.  Love. Think of how many times a day we use it, and what we use it for.  I know how many times I day I tell my children or my husband that I love them, but I also say things like, “I love Chinese food!” and “I love it when I do a few loads of laundry and don’t have any mismatched socks!”  I talk to my mom nearly every day on the phone and end it with “love you.”  I end every email with my husband “love, Karrie.”  I sometimes tell my children that I love them so much, I could squeeze them until their heads pop off. We love songs and television shows.  We love movie stars and seasons of the year, restaurants, cars, and fashion.   Toby Keith sang about how much he loves a bar, and Ray Charles sang that he can’t stop loving you, and the Beatles are well known for preaching that, above all else, all you need is love. It all seems like a l

Wiping up motherhood

Sprinting up late to my son’s baseball game, I caught a glimpse of my daughter with-- I’m not going to sugar coat this-- snot dripping down her face.  “I need a tissue,” she said. “No kidding,” I replied, but I didn’t have one.  I quickly searched my pockets for a scrap of tissue or paper or anything remotely resembling an appropriate tool for cleaning her nose, but found nothing.  So I did what came naturally to me.  I wiped it with my finger, and then wiped my finger on my pants.  A nearby dad said, “And that’s the sign of a true mother,” which I completely shrugged off because wiping a nose is nothing special to me.  I have also licked my thumb and cleaned peanut butter off of their faces even though I swore to heaven and back that I would never repeat that horrific act that my mother did so many times.  I guess it is just part of being a mom. I would have never guessed it, but wiping is actually a huge part of motherhood.  This proclamation should

The world’s best parenting advice

Somehow I am subscribed to a parenting magazine’s email list, and a few weeks ago I got an email with the subject of “The World’s Best Parenting Advice.”  Having been a mother for a decent chunk of my adult life, I clicked on the email and found that every single tip was a way for a mother to get out of her job, as a mother.   There were ways to avoid having to rocking a child to sleep.  How to trick them into eating healthy.  The best videos and apps to keep kids occupied.  Other such things that are very valuable I’m sure, but all seemed to be some sort of alternative for putting in the time and effort that it truly takes to be a decent parent. So that’s why I’m scrapping everything the email said and giving you my own advice.  The best parenting tip I have is to learn how to whistle with your fingers. I couldn’t always do it, no matter how hard I tried.  It wasn’t until a few months ago that I realized that it was something I needed to learn to be a good parent.  Because goo

Ping pong injury proves a mother’s love

By the time this column runs, my nose will have completely healed and I will no longer need to apply extra natural beige makeup to the spot where my sunglasses so painful rested.  But I would be remiss if I did not at least get this story down in writing so that in years to come I can pull out a yellowed piece of newspaper and point at and say something like, “remember the stick?  And my nose?  How can you possibly think that I don’t love you?!??!” Because it’s true:  I love my children very much.  I love them as much as my mother loved me when I said to her that I was going to slide down that muddy hill and she quickly scooped me up so I could ride down on her lap, thereby hitting every root and rock on the way down and bruising her legs so much that she wore long pants for a month. I have yet to live it down, because every so often I am reminded of the pain and humiliation she endured all because of some strange thing I did and how she saved me, blah blah blah. But what I did f

The world’s last Hootenanny Cake (as we know it)

Four generations, one delicious cake Helping my parents move, my daughter was assigned to clean out the pantry.  Like most parents of that generation, I find, my mom has an ongoing love affair with out-of-dated food.  We have been visiting and discovered food that was outdated when we were first married, almost 14 years ago.   “Pickles don’t go bad,” said my dad. “But it’s cloudy.  And they’re white.” It’s not always that bad, but it seems that there are plenty of packaged foods hanging around longer than the date on the side says it should. My daughter thinks this is hilarious.  Every time we visit my parents, she plays this little game where she finds the most out of date item because she gets such a kick out it.  So when my mom told her to go through the entire pantry, she was giddy.  Laughing and tossing things out, there was barely enough to fill a box that was still technically edible. But then she pulled out a box of pudding. “Look at this one, mom.  It looks s