All my children over the age of twelve are pissed. That's how I know we're back to school. Stacks of paperwork, times four, thrown on my desk needing signatures, fees paid, calendar updates, and child assessments leaving me as empty as the checkbook and empathizing with their need for one last week of summer vacation. My fourth grader might be agreeable, if not for his siblings cursing homework assignments; after all, he's dismissed by 2:15pm daily and has at least two outdoor recesses!

With three days of back-to-school torture under our belts we packed up the minivan, Griswold-style, and set off for a Labor Day camping weekend unplugged to recharge. Off the grid without a Snapchat or video game in sight, we exhaled and embraced the Forced Family Fun outdoor recess we all needed at the foot of Mt. Hood.

Tent camping requires as much prep and patience as back-to-school shopping, minus the sharpened Ticonderoga pencils and damned college-ruled graph paper always out of stock…

Facing Humanity

I've been shaking my head a lot lately over angry drivers while wondering how my pristine driving record could upset so many Portlandians. In a progressive city where it's the law to stop for pedestrians, I'm shocked by the vulgarity I face on a daily basis as chauffeur-mom to four children. In the past month I've faced humanity and determined we need to save the planet, one less car at a time...
"Mom, he's looking back at us and he's giving you the middle finger," my daughter laughed on our way to drop her at the airport two weeks ago. 
"It's not me, it's got to be for someone else," I said, stopping behind the man with the erect middle finger sitting in the old sedan at the intersection. 
Green light. Go!

Sure enough, the dude turned left, abruptly merging into the right lane and slowing down to pull alongside me. Yep, she was right, he was clearly making sure both my teen daughter and I saw him flip me the bird, rather than keepi…

Animal House

I've seen a lot of s*&% as a parent, but this summer my eyes, virgin to teenage boyhood, have been forced wide open, nearly blinding me by my own home's National Lampoon's 'Animal House' potential. My basement is not your frat house. With possibilities of destruction seemingly endless, my cool mom attitude butts up against the tough mother raising responsible adults. Sweet gooey hugs and the illusion of parental control seeming to vanish overnight like the soft moustache hair you shaved with your brand new razor last night.

Help yourselves to pizza and microwave anything; popcorn, burritos and free-range chicken nuggets are lunchtime staples in my home, along with snacks of Goldfish, chips, pretzels, apples, oranges, grapes, (a bonanza of bananas for your buddy with the midnight potassium cravings), and instant lemonade. I will sauté, grill, and bake my Betty Crocker butt off to satiate the hungriest army of growing children at our family dinner table! Your fri…

Driving us to FFF in the Bike Lane


Green Slime of Life

Be careful or the negative will consume you, I thought to myself summoning the energy to raise much-needed positive endorphins on a morning run. The 24-hour news cycle, global temps rising, and Customer Care Representatives who suck me bone dry will require a longer run this morning to combat the negative slime oozing in our country and polluting my mind.

Keep America Great! The irony when 'customer care' reps deny, deny, deny or someone from India answers. Aetna health insurance is the bane of my existence after seven phone calls, each a minimum hour-long blood boiling conversation having diminishing returns on my mental health (which is also likely not covered). And what happened to common courtesy? Last night a lady refused to zipper merge me onto I-5 south, throwing up her hands in anger, as if it made her a better driver! I gave her thumbs up instead. Then there's the mid-century modern sofa we purchased supporting a boutique local business thinking it would be grand …

Parenting in the Ballpark

Parenthood is a Mensa mental challenge these days of major league proportions. Uncomfortable silence be damned! You are my son and I will keep rattling off topics requiring more than a yes/no answer until the cows come home, as we pass the pastures and rolling hills of Oregon en route to our latest baseball tournament. The hour and location unimportant, I have a GPS and my only goal is time alone with you. With four children, a car ride alone with you is a passable date as I step up to the plate.

Deep voice and prickly moustache amidst your fourteen-year-old complexion, I can still see the almost 8lb 12.5oz little slugger with handsome sideburns gazing in my eyes with wonder.

I know you still need your mom even though your replies sound more like grunts. Why is the answer to what you and your buddies ate for dinner while skateboarding last night 'stuff'? I'm mom and you're safe!

This is my first time parenting a teen boy. Grunts and stuff may be the norm though it'…

Surrendering Control

I'm convinced grandmas regain creative energy zapped from exhausted parents. This is why I pulled out my mother's dusty care package of 'Make Your Own Bubble Tea', hidden out of reach in the depths of a kitchen cabinet, when she came to visit. Who has time to make dinner, let alone bubble tea, with end of year concerts and baseball 7 days a week? Besides, the army of frozen bananas edging out the frozen veggies in my freezer drawer is evidence my former banana bread ambition had petrified. I surrendered control years ago to sandwiches in the car! Grandma surely has the stamina and fresh outlook I am lacking, rolling up her sleeves with a smile on her face as my eager 8-year-old son sidled up next to her at the counter to measure ingredients.

Grandma always has everything under control, I thought to myself stepping away, grateful to manage one less duty. "Careful," I cautioned my son who placed a glass measuring cup on the edge of the sink, "it could fall…