Archive - 2017

1
Easy Ideas for Decorating Christmas Cookies
2
Puppy Love
3
My Favorite Things 2017: Holiday Gifts to Give or Keep
4
What’s in a Middle Name?
5
Questions to Ask Your Child’s Teacher: the Sooner the Better
6
The Influenza Vaccine: Questions Answered, Myths Dispelled
7
Tweets About Twins
8
Post #200: Honoring a Man who Completed His Bucket List
9
A Child’s Blankie is a Cherished Friend
10
Playing it Safe in Bear Country: a Few Stories From the Other Side

Easy Ideas for Decorating Christmas Cookies

My mother has been called the Walter White of Christmas cookies.  She’s been known to bake them 3-figure numbers without breaking a sweat, and some of her creations have been declared utterly (and legally) addictive.  The decadence goes international with Norwegian Kringla, German-influenced Peparkakor and Leibkuchen, and Scottish shortbread.  But it’s the traditional, down-home, cut-out sugar cookie that no one can get enough of.  I am merely her protege, her Jesse Pinkman, who uses her recipes and is constantly trying to perfect the techniques and skill of a true pro.  I wish I had the time to hand paint (yes,…

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Puppy Love

My husband and I agreed long ago that getting a puppy for Christmas is not a good idea.  The initial surprise and adorable photo opportunities are one thing, but the extra work and lack of sleep during a busy holiday and having to housebreak in frigid, snow-covered weather just spells Bad Plan.  So what happens? We get a puppy at Christmastime. One morning in November my kids ambushed me at the door, classifieds in hand.  There’s puppies for sale in the newspaper!  They were the right price, a wonderful breed, and only two towns away.  So we sought.  And we found a…

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My Favorite Things 2017: Holiday Gifts to Give or Keep

Sometimes wakefulness at 4 am can produce something other than frustration.  Yes, my brain was marching through a parade of thoughts and worries faster than a screenager’s brain on gaming:  the Christmas party we are hosting, the puppy arriving the day after, did my son really just leave his ski jacket at school, or did he lose it?  You know how it can be, especially during this crazy, joyful, where-is-the-snow-already (!), time of year.  But in the middle of the brain train, I had one, just one, really good idea.  I’m jumping on the caboose of the veritable iron horse others like Maria…

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What’s in a Middle Name?

The other night, my husband sent himself a package to his mom’s house, one he will catch up with when we arrive for Thanksgiving.  To be sure to whom the package belongs, he included his middle name “Byron” in the name for the addressee. You see, his dad was “Charles Allen Black.”  My husband is “Charles Byron Black.” Punctuation saves lives; middle names add interest and depth to who we are.  They are a source of intrigue, prompting the ubiquitous question, in one form or another: So, what’s the “Z” stand for? Huh.  “E.W.”  Wonder what her middle names are?…

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Questions to Ask Your Child’s Teacher: the Sooner the Better

  As if summer didn’t commit its disappearing act yet again, here we are, facing down November, and I haven’t published my back-to-school post.  No, the dog didn’t eat my homework (at least not this time), and I don’t really think of myself as a procrastinator (my fault usually lies in being the opposite).  Honestly, it’s been tough adjusting to the new school year, and it still, a whole quarter down, feels like we are settling in.  Looking back, it was a bad omen when we shopped for the usual cache of No. 2 pencils (sharpened!) and three-ringed binders (four different…

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The Influenza Vaccine: Questions Answered, Myths Dispelled

(This post was originally published January 22, 2014, and has been updated for the 2017-2018 influenza season.) As the days grow colder the influenza vaccine rhetoric heats up, even at the most zen of locales, the yoga studio.  A few years ago I recall the discussion of who was ill and for how long infecting the air over the patchwork of exercise mats and the talk leading to a count of who got the flu vaccine, who did not, and the defense of their decisions. Back when I was a practicing physician assistant in Wisconsin, the misinformation about the flu…

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Tweets About Twins

A mother drops, (yes, drops) herself down next to me at a “Mother of Multiples” meeting.  She recently delivered babies seven and eight, twin boys.  You read it right.  Babies seven and eight.  I was already acquainted with this Wonder Mom as our husbands were colleagues, and was, needless to say, in awe of her ability to make babies.  Given it was four years of real effort to conceive my husband’s and my twin boys, I was (and still am) amazed by women who only have to think the word pregnant and bam!  They are with child.  Or children, in this case….

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Post #200: Honoring a Man who Completed His Bucket List

I had it all figured out.  Post #200 was going to be a little bit sad and a bit uplifting, steeped in parental poignancy.  And I was in rare form; I had the pictures ready to go before I even began a rough narrative.  (Photographs are normally an eleventh-hour pursuit for me.)  I was ready to write. But then life happened.  I haven’t written that particular post (but pics are waiting in the wings, though…yay); it will just have to wait.  Something else needed to be written and posted first, still sad, and also uplifting: Do not put off the…

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A Child’s Blankie is a Cherished Friend

  So well-loved it’s often transformed beyond recognition:  tangled shreds of a sickening brownish hue and still adored.  Sometimes tragically lost and never found, irreplaceable.  But sometimes the attachment is fickle; any soft square of material will do.   It can have its own persona, have a cute name, and even take its own adventures. What is this amorphous being of which I speak? The blankie.  Aaaahhh, the blankie. The cherished, most comforting “lovey” (psychology parlance for any item a child finds comforting) outside of Mom and Dad, is that bit of softness-to-cheek that children become so attached to.  …

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Playing it Safe in Bear Country: a Few Stories From the Other Side

  At 3 am we were awakened by a dull thumping-and-scraping coming from our garage.  In my half-awake haze I wondered why one of the kids would be up at this hour, and in the garage no less.  Then I heard slap-slap-slap-slap-slap! on the mud room door, and I realized my husband was up, making a ruckus of his own. There’s something in our garage, he said. My husband strode purposefully out of the room, and I was left confused as to where he thought he was going, if our garage was being rearranged (so it seemed) by someone who didn’t…

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