Toads and the Fourth and maybe a rat

There’s a toad living in a pair of sneakers I keep on the back patio. He switches from one shoe to the other, but he’s always in one of them during the day; at night, he emerges and hops around the yard. I guess he’s looking for bugs. Every day I peek to make sure he’s there. Do toads sleep? They must. Whenever I look, though, he’s just sitting there quietly, tucked into the dark cave of my shoe, hisRead more

Where I live and the terrible, no-good, very bad N-word.

Last month on Valentine’s Day, I was listening to a talk radio show about schools, guns, and the Parkland shooting. I don’t like guns. I don’t want guns in schools. But as I listened to the show, what occurred to me is this: there are invisible weapons just as dangerous as guns. I live in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. Let me describe Ponte Vedra for you. It’s our ritzy little idyllic community. Our grass is literally greener than everyone else’s.Read more

The border policy of ruining children.

It took us over a year to get my youngest daughter home from Guatemala because our attorney** was trying really hard to prevent the government from enacting adoption reforms. She claimed she opposed any changes because it would harm children. Everyone in our little adoption circle believed her. Except us. We suspected she feared her money pipeline would dry up. We feared her animosity toward the government would prevent officials from approving our paperwork, and we were right. **by attorney,Read more

Just another day, or why I drink a little

Friday morning I woke up at 5 am like usual so I could make coffee before going to teach my 5:45 am boot camp class. I love coffee so much. I had not slept well because I’ve been having headaches. After class, I came home and got the kids off to school. I straightened the kitchen and loaded the dishwasher with the 14 glasses my family of five had used that morning. Then I drove to Orange Park to getRead more

A high school, Planned Parenthood, and anti-intellectualism: how students taught some grown-ups about censorship

A few years ago, some students at Ponte Vedra High School had an idea. Let’s host a beauty pageant for guys, they thought. Sort of a spoof, but just for fun. And we’ll charge people to come see it, and we’ll give the money to charity. The annual Mr. FINtastic contest was born (Go Sharks!), and it has been a smashing success. This year’s winner is PV High senior Matt Gibson, an affable guy with a mop of curly brown hair and anRead more

MLK Day, and keeping our eyes wide open

My teen girl, Scout, is reading A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah for school. At first, she moaned every time she had to read a new chapter. “I hate this book,” she said repeatedly. “It’s so, so bad.” So I held an intervention. A Long Way Gone is the memoir of a young boy in the Sierra Leone who was driven from his home and forcibly conscripted into a rebel army, where he witnessed –Read more

A Cast of Characters Update

It occurred to me yesterday that since I wrote a bestselling award-winning really good book about my family, I can stop using fake names when writing about them in my blog. It’s with some regret that I say this – I really do like their deserving monikers. But to be honest, I have never gotten proficient at writing the word “pterodactyl.” It’s time, anyway, to give you a brief update on everyone. The Diva: The Diva is my daughter Scout,Read more

The Diva flies off, and Wonder Woman

I owe you an Annual Vacation Odyssey post, and I will deliver on that tout suite. But in the meantime, I want to tell you about my darling Diva, whom I’ve shipped off to the Dominican Republic with a bunch of people she’s never met to run a summer camp for under-served children. This idea hatched in my brain earlier this year as I watched her struggle through her freshman year of high school. It was like she was trudgingRead more

The unfortunate chaos of busy-ness

The Russian spy ship Victor Leonov is not far off the coast of Florida right now, which means if I hop on a cruise this evening we could meet up by lunchtime tomorrow. I mean, not that I’d want to. I’m not a spy or anything OR AM I but apparently the Russians are our friends now, and with all their eavesdropping equipment I feel like somebody on board could help me get to the bottom of why Common Core math evenRead more

The Tyrant picks her battles, and we both learn about karma.

The Tyrant won’t clean her room. It’s infuriating, and baffling. When I’m afraid it’s infested with something, I clean it for her, and organize everything properly, and explain to her how straightening her room for 10 minutes a day is all she needs to do. “Okay, Mom!” she’ll say happily, because she likes when her room is clean. And then, I swear, like two hours later, she’s lounging around in a crack den. Last week, under the detritus covering herRead more