Category Archives: Personal

The Joy of Pivot Tables

Ah, January. When I have all the previous year’s personal finance data and can spend untold hours allowing my OCD nature to run wild through endless spreadsheets, pivot tables, pie charts and other instruments of analytical torture. For someone with an income as modest as mine, and as many children as I have, I’m actually […]

Snow Day

The concept of the snow day was foreign to me for the first four decades of my life. Snow was, as a coworker from the Philippines said yesterday at the office, something on Christmas cards. I moved from Los Angeles to Santa Fe in 2006, after years of mild New Mexico winters. The winter of 2006-07 […]

Timehop

When I heard people talk about Timehop, I thought they meant when Facebook greets you with these “x years ago today” memories. Apparently that’s just called Facebook Memories, and Timehop is an app — which I don’t need, since I have Facebook, right? This “7 years ago today” picture was in my Facebook feed the […]

The Tea Ceremony

Since I stopped blogging regularly five or six years ago, I’ve written a few posts, but it’s been in fits and starts. Every time I think about starting again, I think, why? Do I have anything of significance to say? I no longer have any interest in writing about politics (though once in a while a […]

Can you ever go home again?

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus said you could never step into the same river twice, since the river ever flowed, and was never the same at any moment as it was at any other. Cities are like that. They grow and decay, decline and gentrify. Their character changes subtly or dramatically as an ever-changing river of […]

Road Trip: Part Deux

You’d think the Grand Canyon would be hard to top, but it turned out to be third on Tessie’s list of awesome things on the northern Arizona leg of our road trip. When we got back to Williams, home base for the Grand Canyon expedition, I got off the freeway one exit too soon, which […]

Road Trip

My 10-year-old daughter and I spent the day at the Grand Canyon, her first trip there and my first time since I was her age. I was a little disappointed when I went as a child, because I expected it to look like it did in all the professional photographs I’d seen, the colors more […]

Slacker Mom’s assault on moral decency and good nutrition

The other night I took my two eldest daughters, 14 and almost 12, to their first concert. Fall Out Boy seemed a safe enough choice. I actually like some of their songs. People my age without kids apparently have never heard of them, though, because a couple of friends who asked who was playing responded […]

Reflections on New York

I was in New York last week for the BlogHer conference, the first time I’d been to New York in 20 years. It was exactly 20 years ago, July 1995. I remember because I went with my best friend and we flew there on her birthday. Enraptured by the Greek and Roman collections at the […]

Welcome to my midlife crisis

What I now recognize as my midlife crisis began about five years ago. I was a stay at home mom, married, a practicing Catholic. I was putting the finishing touches on a book that a publisher had expressed interest in after seeing a chapter and outline. Life was good, or so it seemed. I never […]

What am I afraid of?

I must have read What Was I Scared Of? a thousand times over the years as one after another of my children passed in and then out of that stage when they wanted to hear the same book again and again. When it was Dr. Seuss, I didn’t mind so much, in part because of […]

Why I Hate Valentine’s Day

Don’t happy people in love have enough days to celebrate? Their anniversary, the day they met, his birthday, her birthday, random romantic vacations… So many days to post pictures of the roses he sent, or the ocean view from the balcony of the hotel room they can’t tear themselves away from, even with the beach […]

When life and comedy and scripture collide

The last couple of weeks have felt kind of like a test. So many things have gone awry, so many little and medium-sized challenges and annoyances and unexpected expenses and repairs and things not working as they should.  I have taken some of them in stride, and others, not so much. By coincidence, the movie […]

Happy New Year

Two years ago, on New Year’s Day 2012, I wrote this post.  The photo on the post was of a woman’s hand holding a champagne glass.  It wasn’t my hand, just some random picture I had found on the internet.  The woman’s hands were lovely, as hand models’ hands are, and her long nails were […]

Back when I used to be a blogger

Back when I used to be a blogger — a real blogger, who posted at least 3 or 4 times a week, sometimes more — there is no way on earth I would have not heard of a blog that had 395,975 likes on Facebook, a blog that was turned into a book that, only […]

The Test of Time

You never know how long things will last.  These four daisies, for instance.  They were part of an arrangement I got more than a month ago, and as I picked the others out one by one as they withered and died, these somehow kept their youthful vigor – if youthful vigor is the appropriate term […]

Maskbook

The other day, I was talking on the phone with a friend I hadn’t spoken to for a while and she said, you are always so positive on Facebook. She meant it as a compliment, because she was telling me about another of her friends is  negative on Facebook and she finds it demoralizing. I […]

The Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time: A Comedy in Three Acts

Setting:  The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, in the City of the Holy Faith. Act I Portia, Cordelia and Tess and Mom wait for mass to begin.  Tess sits with arms crossed in stone-faced silence as her ploy to skip mass by faking sick has failed.  Elizabeth is in the ladies room to […]

New Years Resolutions

I’ve always been ambivalent about New Year’s resolutions.  Some years I’ve made them, some years not.  Rarely do people keep them.  In tongue in cheek recognition of this, my friend Bob Cornelius wrote on Facebook last night: 1st Resolution: Go to the gym every day. 2nd: Feel guilty for not going. 3rd: Pie & ice […]

Thoroughly modern me

The other day I mentioned we’d been to Old Salem to see how the Moravians lived, but that day we would be hanging out at the pool.  Well, we’ve done a lot of hanging out at the pool since then.  Normally, I like to do a lot of culturally enriching type sightseeing when I travel, […]

The kids, the pool and the Moravians

No post yesterday because I was at Old Salem seeing how the Moravians lived in the olden days.  My daughter Elizabeth is having a wondeful time with her friend Jane, enjoying being one of a pair of big girls instead of the eldest of four little ones.  I am still getting over the fact that […]

Facebook is killing my blog

Seriously. I have wasted more time on Facebook the past few days than I can believe. Maybe wasted isn’t the right word, because certainly it’s nice being able to keep up with what your friends and family are doing, but still, I really did blog a lot more before I started spending so much time […]

Better by the dozen

What’s kept me from the computer lately is that one of my friends and her children are visiting from out of town this week. This means we now have six children in the house, but the other night we had two other friends over, who also have six children between them, for a total of […]

I’ll make you famous

When my husband and I were on our honeymoon in 1991, the hotel where we stayed kept showing the same movies on cable over and over. One of those movies was Young Guns II (1990), starring Emilio Estevez as New Mexico outlaw Billy the Kid. Several times in the movie, when Billy pulled a gun […]

Blood and Watermelon

Santa Fe sits in the foothills of a portion of the Rocky Mountains known as the Sangre de Cristo, which is Spanish for the Blood of Christ. The early Spanish settlers chose that name because the setting sun reflected on the snow-covered mountains and gave them a reddish hue at sunset. For the same reason, […]

BC

I use this expression rather often and semi-ironically meaning Before Children rather than Before Christ, so instead of constantly putting (Before Children) in parentheses after I use it, I decide to give it its own post I could just link to in future and save time. Because as a mother of four and borderline OCD […]

The end of innocence

He was a sweet, golden-haired boy, and his mother had kept him pure. Then I came along. I, with my worldly daughters. We, experienced in the ways of the flesh — the ground and re-formed, battered and deep fried avian flesh — gave a little boy his first bite ever of fast food. And not […]

Got my crack, finally

I’m online.  Oh, thank God.  Haven’t had internet access for over 24 hours and now understand how crack addicts feel when they can’t score.  Moved from one vacation stop to another, and there is no internet where I’m staying.  I have 15 minutes now, but no more until sometime tomorrow, if then.  It is really […]

Return of the native

I’ve been on the road the past few days, so haven’t been able to blog or even read until now the raging battle in the comments section of my last post.  I’m back in LA, sitting by an open window — an open window!  in January! — watching the little savages play under a lemon […]

Names from the past

A friend from high school, one of only two I’ve kept in touch with, recently joined Facebook and sent me a friends request. She’d been Googling other friends from long ago, and it suddenly occurred to me that if anyone who knew me 20 years ago or more was looking for me, they’d have a […]

Happy birthday, Grandma

My grandmother, Betty Lou Heintz, nee Brown, would have been 87 years old today. She died nearly 18 years ago, when she was only 69. I realize that in the larger scheme of human history, 69 has more often than not been an impressive age to which to live. I, at 44, would in many […]

A mother’s love

Before I had children, I had no concept of the power of a mother’s love. Truly, it can overcome almost anything. The example I am about to give is mundane, and many of you will laugh at me, but I’ll risk your ridicule and relate it anyway. I am not afraid of snakes, or mice, […]

Can’t sleep

When I told people that Portia was sleeping through the night, I had a feeling I might jinx it. Sure enough, she woke up hungry at 3:30 this morning. If that had been the only nocturnal disturbance, it would have been okay, since she’s only three months old, and infants are expected to wake their […]

Bifocal blues

I’ve finally gotten used to my progressive bifocals. At first I felt as though I’m walking in a pit, and they threw my depth perception off. I’m still careful backing out of parking spaces, but I don’t feel as disoriented as I did. Switching back and forth between the regular glasses and the prescription sunglasses […]

To boldly go…

As I was reading Maureen Dowd’s cleverly titled column “Ich Bin Ein Jet-Setter” about Barack Obama’s world tour, the phrase “he will have to successfully complete a number of tasks” jumped out at me: yet another split infinitive appearing in what is arguably our nation’s most illustrious newspaper, The New York Times, written by one […]

C-section moms to the back of the bus

For years I’ve been reading about how there are too many cesarean deliveries performed in this country, that vain celebrity moms choose c-sections to have smaller babies and preserve their figures or suit the convenience of their schedules or avoid some of the potential after-effects of vaginal birth. We hear repeatedly from natural childbirth advocates […]

Portia Louise, home at last

Portia Louise Russell and her exhausted but deliriously happy mother came home from the hospital on Sunday, and it’s taken this long for me to get around to writing about it. First, the name. Portia is the name we had in mind when I wrote my earlier post about baby names, but I was keeping […]

Men behaving badly – and the women who blog about it

One of my husband’s friends gave him a hard time because I “slammed” him in my blog the other day. I was dumbfounded, since the post in question didn’t mention my husband, and my comment was a general one about how mothers tend to feel guilty for frittering away time on the internet instead of […]

The worst mother in the world

Is there a mother who doesn’t feel like this is her once in a while? When we yell at the kids over something stupid and feel like a complete jackass afterward. When we sit like a zombie surfing the internet instead of reading to our children like we promised ourselves (or God forbid them) we […]

I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille

Age has been on my mind more than usual lately, probably because I’m 43 and about to have a baby. Because I had children relatively late in life, I’m in the position of being in a playgroup where I’m old enough to be the mother of some of the other moms. They like different music. They […]

Essentialism

Contemplating the maternal urge to nest the other day, I started thinking about what feminist theorists derisively term essentialism, the idea that there are essential differences between men and women. I heard this term for the first time my first semester in grad school, when the USC History Department’s mandatory seminar for first year students […]

No more nurseries?

What do you mean you don’t HAVE a nursery????? This was my dumbfounded response when I toured the maternity ward (the only one in Santa Fe) where I’ll be delivering next month. The hospital where I had my other three children had one, and since all my deliveries were c-section and I wasn’t quite up […]

Wherefore art thou Ethelbald?

If Romeo and Juliet had been called Ethelbald and Hildegarde, would their names be synonymous with romance? Names have been on my mind lately, since we have to choose one for our fourth daughter next month. Our first and third daughters have traditional, mainstream names, Elizabeth and Theresa, and we didn’t catch any flak about […]

Does the world really need another new blog?

I’ve asked myself that question for several years now, hesitant to join the countless multitudes already offering their unsolicited opinions on everything under the sun. Probably not, but I wanted to start one anyway. After all, what makes my unsolicited opinions any more superfluous than anyone else’s? So why didn’t I? For one thing, I […]