Sunday, October 26, 2014

Home alone

This past weekend, my husband and I did something we’ve never done before – left our teenagers home alone, for a whole, entire night.
What, are we crazy? Wasn’t that just like asking for it?
Why not just hang a sign at the corner with a big arrow pointing at our home: “Parent-free house, next right. Party starts now!”
The girls are old enough to stay home alone for one night, said Rational Mom.
Emotional Mom wasn’t sure. I immediately started imagining worst-case scenarios, ‘80s movie-style.
Remember that party scene in “Sixteen Candles” featuring an elaborate beer can pyramid, drunken haircut and the exchange student passed out on the front lawn?
Or what about “Home Alone” when the Bad Guys break into the house and Macaulay Culkin is forced to terrorize the would-be burglars?
And then there’s “Risky Business.” No words.
Before we left, Rational Mom sat the girls down for a little talk.
Don’t forget to lock the doors and feed the cat, I said.
Call us on our cellphones if you have any questions.
We’ll be back by lunch tomorrow.
Here’s $20 for a pizza.
Emotional Mom had a few other tips:
Don’t let anyone in the house. That may look like Grandma at the door, but ask for ID just in case.
Don’t use the oven, stove or microwave. Best to avoid using any hot water as well. Someone could get scalded.
No boys. NO. BOYS.
Lockdown? Not really. Think of it as more like an opportunity for “sisterly bonding.”
If anyone calls, answer the phone like this: “Sheriff Huffman’s house.” Then yell really loud, “Somebody let the Doberman Pinschers back inside. Time for their dinner!”
Don’t watch any scary movies on TV. I’ve pre-selected some family-friendly videos that you girls used to love to watch such as “101 Dalmatians,” “Lion King” and “Land Before Time.”
If the power goes out, do not light candles. Just sit quietly together until it comes back on. Pretend you’re living in the olden days.
Sensible Mom figured the girls wouldn’t go wild while we were gone. She was also expecting tattletales. Normally, I discourage them. But for this overnight vacation, I was counting on the tattletales to tell all. They won’t be able to resist, I figured.
I thought for sure we’d get at least one or two calls from one sister complaining about another sister hogging the remote or eating all the ice cream. But no.
We didn’t hear a peep, which Emotional Mom was sure meant that they’d fallen comatose due to Radon poisoning or some other lethal gas leak.
We got home the next day to find all Huffman teenagers conscious. No one had fallen, broken an arm or burned herself. The trash can was not filled with empty beer bottles. All pets were accounted for and alive.
How’d it go? I said.
The oldest gave a snort.
You just assumed the worst, she said.
No I didn’t, said Rational Mom.
I did, said Emotional Mom.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Tiny life

Have you seen the TV show “Tiny House Nation”? It’s a show where “less is more” advocates help people move from Large Homes into Tiny Houses.
According to the host of the show, many tiny houses feature no more than 300 square feet of living space, are built on wheels and include a composting toilet.
A composting what?
To this mom, a toilet should whisk away everything the family deposits into it quickly and cleanly. Let that waste go far, far away, leaving only a faint whiff of piña colada-scented air freshener behind.
Where does the poop go after using a composting toilet?
The host of “Tiny House Nation” enthusiastically described pouring cupsful of peat moss into the composting toilet. Then you turn a crank to mix the two.
And whose job is it to open the peat moss potty and clean it out? Can you hire a Tiny House Cleaner for that? Because there is no way I’m touching peat-mossed poop. I don’t care how ecologically fabulous the compost is.
One episode featured a family with two teenagers moving into a tiny home with a single bathroom and two small bedroom loft spaces. For some reason the teenagers went along with this idea. Which made me wonder if they were impersonators, because I’ve never met a teenager who willingly downsized.
Their tiny home kitchen featured one dorm-sized fridge. Note to Tiny House builders: The correct mini fridge-to-teen ratio is more like three-to-one. As in, three fridges per each teen.
The tiny home did not include an oven, which made perfect sense. You don’t need a real oven to cook for teens. Their essential appliances are a toaster oven and microwave. Both, along with a 48-pack of Hot Pockets, will keep a teen fed for weeks. Throw in a few cases of Pop Tarts and they’re good to go.
The builders also created a desk for one teen in his new loft area where he was shown “sitting” at the desk “doing homework.” Again, I am suspicious.
Presented with a new desk and well-lit task light, no teen has ever actually used it. Instead, they’ll sit on the couch in the living room, next to the TV, in the dark, and complain that it is too loud in this room and would people please stop talking because I have a Social Studies test worth 85 percent of my grade tomorrow.
Another red flag about this tiny house: The teen loft didn’t have a door. A teenage girl won’t change as much as her socks without a door locked and deadbolted behind her. Those who dare to interrupt the process will be greeted by an ear-splitting: “I’M CHANGING IN HERE!”
A tiny house wouldn’t work for us parents but I have a better idea.
Our teens could move into the tiny house and have it all to themselves, including the composting toilet. I’ll even supply the peat moss.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

You're hired

I love it when teens get jobs. For money.
A teen with a job can buy her own hot lunch. She can buy all the makeup she wants. She can get fake nails. She can go on a spending spree at Forever 21.
A teen with a job means Mom is no longer the bank, and we moms love it when we stop being the bank. Last week I started with $17 in cash in my wallet. At the end of the week, I had $15. It’s amazing how much money you can save when you’re not handing out dollar bills like Kleenex.
The Huffman girls have had a variety of jobs. They’ve worked at toy stores, chocolate shops and gourmet food shops. They’ve walked dogs, babysat kids and houses and watered plants.
One Huffman girl got a job at a cupcake shop. What a cushy job. She doesn’t actually make the cupcakes. Sometimes she cuts little flowers out of fondant and puts them on top of the cupcakes, but she doesn’t stir batter or pull heavy trays in and out of a hot industrial oven. She simply sells cupcakes to tourists who spend a reported “forever” deciding on which $3 morsel to buy. For this, she gets paid more money per hour than I was making in 2004 as a reporter.
Getting a teen a job seems pretty straightforward to us moms: You see a “help wanted” sign at the movie theater/Kohl’s/McDonald’s. You tell the teen. They apply. Hopefully they get the job. Mom, teen, FICA and Social Security are all happy.
But some teens have very particular ideas about which job they think is worthy of them. One Huffman teen once said she didn’t want a job where anyone she knew would see her. Another teen didn’t want to make coffee or fast food.
That’s fine, I said. Next time your car needs gas or we get the cellphone bill, let’s talk about your requirements for an employer to hire you. And yeah, I did say it like that.
Earlier this summer, one Huffman girl went job hunting. She came back an hour later.
I filled out an application, she said, as if she was done for the day.
Keep going, I said. And if anyone asks you about cleaning the bathroom, say yes.
A friend told me story about her teen who, when filling out an online job application for Starbucks, wrote that he would not clean the bathroom.
Add indignant snort here.
Us grownups know very well that when you’re filling out a job application and they ask you about cleaning the bathroom, you say yes. Yes, I can clean. Yes, I can mop. Yes, I can take the trash to the smelly industrial compactor machine. Yes, yes, yes.
I’ve cleaned bathrooms at jobs. I’ve cleaned bathrooms at jobs where my husband owned the business. Teens, at some point in your employment history, you will have to clean a bathroom. If you want that job, you will clean that toilet. Just make sure you wash your hands after you’re done.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Holding tight

It’s been more than three weeks since Napa’s earthquake but I’m still discombobulated. Like most of us, I’m convinced every creak or crack in the house is the next you-know-what. I wake up at night and blame it on imagined — or real — aftershocks.
The books are back on the shelves next to the bed but I still eye them when I go to bed and imagine them toppling during the next quake — and we all know there will be a “next” quake.
We also now know that we happen to live on a newly discovered fault that pretty much runs right through our neighborhood in west Napa. Congratulations, neighbors. We hit the seismic jackpot (three tumbling rocks in a row?) and have the broken dishes to prove it.
Earthquake insurance is looking better and better, isn’t it? From what I know, earthquake insurance usually pays off only when your house pretty much falls into a million pieces. But it might be better than nothing. We’d be covered. For total destruction.
Then again, if there’s total destruction in Napa, I have a feeling that earthquake insurance is going to be the least of our worries.
I’ll cling to anything that gives me a sense of control at this point. California Earthquake Authority — give me a call. We’re all yours.
Last weekend, my husband ordered all sorts of nifty earthquake safety gadgets like TV screen holders, LED flashlights and furniture straps. Why not tether down every piece of furniture we have? Someone should invent people-sized Lego furniture and flooring. Have you ever tried prying apart two tiny Lego pieces? Pretty much impossible. On Aug. 24, throughout Napa, entire kitchens and collections of knickknacks were smashed to smithereens but those Lego Harry Potter castles and Star Wars models? Solid as a rock.
My parents’ kitchen in Napa came with those earthquake-proof cabinet latches that we always fumble to pry open. Pre-quake, I always thought of them as so inconvenient. Today? Genius.
Thanks to those dorky catches, my parents didn’t lose any dishes on Aug. 24. At our kitchen, with cabinets that swing wide open, we lost most of ours.
After seeing the remnants of our kitchen, the day after the quake my mom brought over an extra set of dishes for us to borrow. I looked at them glumly and left them on the dining room table. Why put dishes into cupboards that are obviously so not earthquake-safe?
Then, last week, my in-laws sent us a set of new dishes, an early 25-year wedding anniversary gift.
I almost don’t want to put them away, said my husband. I’m afraid we’d be asking for it.
A few days later, he installed magnetic latches on our kitchen cupboards. Now every time I go to open the cabinet, I feel like I’m in a tug of war with a piece of laminated plywood.
Now let’s unpack the new dishes, my husband said.
We opened the boxes. We put the new plates away.
I’m hoping they’ll last at least 25 years.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

You shook me up

I’m a California native, so I thought I’d be used to earthquakes by now. Nope. Never going to get used to being tossed around in bed in the middle of the night, books flying, glass shattering and dressers bouncing against the walls.
This Sunday’s earthquake was like some psycho wine country version of “Poltergeist.” Mother Nature grabbed hold of us that morning, shook us around like she was really pissed off and then walked away with her middle finger in the air.
I like to think I’m cool in a crisis, but when that quake hit I was screaming like a teenager. So were the girls. By the time I’d gotten to them in the hallway, it was over and all we could do was just clutch at each other.
Put shoes on, yelled my husband.
Shoes, right.
What are those again? My brain was not exactly working at that point.
Back next to the bed, I searched for shoes but a 2-foot pile of books covered them.
College Girl had spent the night at a friend’s house, so the first thing we did was try to call her. Amazingly, the phones worked. She was fine, physically.
Stay put, we told her. I had visions of a traumatized kid trying to drive on buckled roadways around fires and fallen branches.
In the hallway, the girls grabbed a small battery powered emergency light that had been plugged into a wall socket since after the 2000 earthquake. The week before, I’d thought of throwing it away because it’s old and has a pretty feeble light. Sunday morning that little light never looked so good.
Downstairs almost every step cracked as we walked over broken glass. The fish tank broke, said my husband. There was tank gravel and water everywhere. Balsamic vinegar had shattered all over the kitchen floor, mixing with spilled sugar. Actually, I think the sugar conveniently soaked up some of the vinegar.
Think you need to do some spring cleaning of your cabinets? Don’t waste your time. Just wait for an earthquake.
Like a lot of other Napans, we lost most of our dishes. Wine glasses fell into drawers that had been flung open, leaving glass shards inside them. Ceramic pots stored on the top shelves had broken into bits on the floor. I picked up one lid, still intact, to put it away for safekeeping.
Don’t bother, said my husband. The bowl broke.
Making my way to the front door, I peeked outside to see neighbors walking outside with flashlights.
You OK? they called out.
Yep, I answered feebly. I felt like barfing.
The rest of the downstairs was more of the same. Contents of every shelf facing east/west were dumped. Most north/south shelves had held firm.
I braced myself as I opened College Girl’s room, already filled to the brim with the contents of her school apartment.
Looks just like normal in there, I said with a laugh.
A firefighter neighbor came over to turn off the gas and check out our hot water heater. As it slowly started getting lighter outside the sound of broken glass falling into trashcans could be heard. The cleanup had begun.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Shred it

Free community “shred day,” read the ad from a Napa bank this past week.
That got my attention.
Free shredding? Count me in.
Who wants to sit for hours feeding old 401(k) statements three pages at a time into some wimpy home office shredder?
I’m into shredding. If you don’t shred, Identity Stealers can get a hold of your Important Info and then next thing you know you’re trying to convince it wasn’t the real you that bought that plasma TV, fancy sneakers and those $200 headphones.
I imagined the star of free shred day to be some super-sized shredding machine with giant gnashing and cutting jaws, ready to make mincemeat out of my old bank statements and health care EOBs. That’s my kind of shredding. Fast. Effective. Identity Stealer proof.
To get ready for shred day, first I cleaned out two file cabinets in our home office. Then I hit the mother lode in our attic.
Napa Garbage bill from June 1999? Got it.
Sears statement from December 2002? Yup.
I’m sure no one else cares about my Target receipts from November 2003 but I had kept them all just in case the IRS came knocking on my front door. Because no one wants to come up empty-handed when the IRS comes calling.
Hello IRS guys? You need receipts? Come on in! I got your receipts right here. Boxes full, and neatly labeled by year and month.
I hear I can get rid of receipts that are seven years or older, although as I write this, a tiny part of me worries I may be jinxing myself by doing so.
Dear any IRS receipt inspector people reading this: Our receipts are all very boring and uninteresting. Especially the Target ones — unless you need to know how much a mom spends on toilet paper in a month. With three toilets and five people in one home, a lot, I tell you.
On shred day I took a trunkful of my old receipts to the bank where a friendly woman helped me unload my car.
I took the lid off one box to show off my color-coded, organized folders.
Very nice, she nodded, before unceremoniously dumping my carefully filed and archived receipts and bank statements into a large gray garbage toter.
I felt a worrying twinge as I looked down into the bin at the jumble of papers. All those years of archiving, down the toilet.
I had to see the shredder in action. The garbage toter was dispatched across the parking lot to a man with a large white truck. My papers would end up as confetti-sized pieces, the shred man assured me.
Metal arms clamped around the container, hoisting it up into the truck and jettisoning the contents.
A video monitor of the inside of the machine showed the piles of paper being fed into the industrial-sized grinder. The shredding was even better than I imagined.
It was loud.
It was destructive.
It was completely Identity Stealer proof.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Ninja Mom

The Huffmans have “discovered” a new TV show. Well, it’s new to us. The rest of the country has apparently been watching “American Ninja Warrior” for a couple years, but we only just got hooked.
The show is a battle but no one’s getting their throat cut “Game of Thrones”-style on ANW (as we Ninja fans call it). “American Ninja Warrior” is a battle to complete a crazy obstacle course where competitors run, jump, dive, climb and pretty much act like superhuman monkeys.
The ultimate goal for ninjas is to make their way to the top of 70-foot “Mount Midoriyama” and be crowned “THE NEXT AMERICAN NINJA WARRIOR!”
It’s a TV show that the whole family can watch. Who doesn’t want to be a ninja? Even better, a ninja warrior?
Would–be ninjas are all super-fit and mostly 20- and 30-somethings, and they know how to put on a show. Some have come up with their own Ninja themes. One guy ran the course wearing a Tarzan loincloth. Another wore something like a “Phantom of the Opera” mask. Another was cloaked in a shiny Superman-style getup including a cape he flung dramatically to the side before dashing across the ninja route.
My favorite Ninja is my new fitness superhero — 24-year-old Kacy Catanzaro. Just 5 feet tall and 100 pounds, Catanzaro was the first woman to climb the 15-foot Warped Wall AND make it to the top of the 25-foot-tall Spider Climb. She even has her own hashtag (#mightykacy). I don’t want to be 24 again, but I wouldn’t mind having Catanzaro’s ninja muscles.
The ninjas make it look so easy, but the ANW obstacles are meant to take out all but the most ninja-iest competitors. Even the obstacle names are intimidating: the Bridge of Blades, the Rumbling Dice and the Devil Steps. Fall off or drop off any of them and you’re out.
Channeling my inner Kacy Catanzaro, I decided to inject some ninja moves into my own life. During my last run, instead of staying on the sidewalk I ran — get this — on a dirt path. Then I jumped over a culvert, parkour-style. I know — radical, right?
I’m not going to stop there. I’ll use ninja moves to elude wayward drivers on the way to Target. I’ll scale shelves to reach the toilet paper on the top shelf at Raley’s. I’ll balance two baskets of laundry while running up steps to the second floor. Walking through downtown at lunchtime I’ll evade wandering tourists with ninja-like steps.
We moms also have mental ninja powers. We can keep track of multiple doctor/dentist appointments, memorize school bell schedules and the Social Security numbers of both our spouse and kids, simultaneously brush our teeth while quizzing a teenager about her curfew and can tell you exactly how many more days that gallon of milk in the fridge will last.
It’s no surprise. After all, it takes an American Ninja Mom to make an American Ninja Warrior.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Let's go Giants

It’s game day and the Huffmans are wearing their best combination of orange and black.
To celebrate our girl turning 20, my husband bought tickets to take the girls to a Giants game at AT&T Park.
I’ll go too, I say, to his surprise. The last time I went to a Giants game was 14 years ago, when the stadium opened.
But with College Girl home for a few short days, I don’t want to miss out on any mother-daughter time. Even if it’s her, me and 41,541 other people.
Ready to cheer on his team, my husband has on orange shorts, a black Day of the Dead print shirt and Giants hat. College Girl is wearing an orange Giants headband, Giants uniform jersey with “Posey 28” written on the back, black leggings and black Converse high-tops. She also carries a giant orange foam finger.
I’m wearing a plain orange T-shirt. I think I need to step it up a bit in the team spirit category.
Arriving at AT&T Park, we are immediately caught up in a swirl of thousands of other orange and black-clad people moving very quickly toward the entrance gates. Inside, we head up multiple ramps, higher and higher until we pop out at the top level of the stadium.
I learn that it’s bad baseball manners to find your seat when someone’s at bat, so we wait in a holding pattern at the entrance tunnel before the usher gives us the nod and we dash up the aisle. Our seats are at the top. The very top. Like small aircraft altitude. The rows are so steep I gulp as I look down, wondering how easy it’d be to just topple right over the edge onto first base.
My husband and the girls immediately announce an expedition in search of a specific vendor’s calamari stand but I’m happy to just get acclimated at my new perch and people watch.
A few rows below me, a man heads up the steep stairs precariously balancing two beers filled to the brim. I am sure he will spill them. He does not.
One couple get to their seats by climbing up and over empty seats like mountain goats.
I watch enviously as a group of fans pass a box of gourmet mini cupcakes back and forth. Why didn’t I think of that?
A woman two rows over wears a sparkly Giants tank top, Giants flip-flops and Giants stick-on tattoos under her eyes. I make a mental note to shop for a better Giants shirt at halftime, then remember there is no halftime in baseball.
Between one inning, a “kiss cam” puts seatmates on the spot. Some kiss cam couples give each other a PG-rated peck but the stadium goes nuts when one pair smooches dramatically. Another camera keeps going back to a dancing grandma wildly waving streamers. The crowd loves her.
During the game, everyone claps in perfect synchronization to certain songs. I catch onto the clap-clap-clap end of the “Let’s Go Giants” chant but a longer, more complicated clapping routine has me stumped until about the eighth inning. Then finally I get it. It’s the intro from “Car Wash.”
I’ve mastered all the clapping songs, I tell my husband, when he and the girls finally return with calamari, hot dogs and a soda in a big plastic Giants cup.
Now I just need a better T-shirt.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Run like the devil

Giving birth three times was hard, but after finishing my first half marathon I can now name the fourth hardest thing I ever did.
If you’d told me a year ago I’d run 13.1 miles, I would have said “What? You must have me mixed up with a much younger/fitter/way more ambitious mother runner.”
But after I heard about a half marathon to be held in Napa at the end of June, I signed up. A lot of it had to do with the sparkly race medal. I like accessories. I wanted that medal.
On race day, the first six miles felt great. A couple times I got the “Wow, I’m really doing this,” running chills. At the halfway mark, I looped around the turnaround cone and gave a big fist pump, feeling strong.
By mile 8, my pace had slowed a bit. I stopped for water and picked up two new people: a devil runner on one shoulder and an angel runner on the other shoulder.
They started talking to me.
Devil runner: “Why are you doing this? You could just walk. You don’t have to run.”
Angel runner: “Keep running. You trained for months for this. You can do it.”
At mile 10, my angel runner reminded me that I only had three miles to go.
“Three looooong miles to go,” taunted my devil runner.
At mile 11, there were only about 10 other runners around me.
Devil runner: “Look, everyone else is walking. You can walk.”
Angel runner: “You trained to run this distance. You can do it.”
Me: “Shut up both of you. I’m trying to finish this.”
A friend and her baby waited for me at mile 12 holding a big pink sign. “Trust your training,” it said.
“Only one mile to go,” she shouted as I wobbled past her.
Halfway through mile 12, I could see the finish way down the road. It was so close but so far away. My breathing was shot. My legs were jelly. Devil runner finally got me. I walked for a few minutes.
I saw another runner who’d already finished walk by me wearing her finisher’s medal. I hated that she was already done and I was still limping along, but there was no way I was not going to run across that effing finish line.
Angel runner: “You do not want to walk across that effing finish line.”
I started running again.
Near the end, I saw my husband. The girls are right ahead, he said. All three were there, even College Girl. I managed to give them a thumbs-up as I ran around the last turn. Crossing the finish, I saw my mom and my running coach.
“You did it!” they said.
I fell into them for a hug and burst into tears.
“It. Was. So. Hard.” I sobbed.
I grabbed my husband’s arm to keep from falling over while I bawled like a baby.
“Get your medal,” he reminded me.
Gasping, I put my prize around my neck. It was so beautiful.
Even my devil runner agreed.

Sunday, June 22, 2014


Until last week I’d never been to Hawaii. Most of our vacations had been to visit grandmas and grandpas, all the Texas relatives and that one time I almost pushed a Huffman teenager into the Grand Canyon.
But thanks to my husband, he and I got invited to this fancy schmancy wine festival at this fancy schmancy resort on Maui. At the Ritz-Carlton.
I’d never actually set foot in a Ritz. The only Ritz I knew was the crackers in my pantry. When we go on vacation we usually end up at a Hampton Inn or an aunt’s spare bedroom. There is no “staying at the Ritz” for the Huffmans.
You know the wine festival is only four days, my husband reminded me. We might have to leave the Ritz and move to a cheaper hotel after that, he said.
I looked at him.
Yes, I’ll leave the Ritz to go stay in a budget hotel, said no woman ever.
Luckily, the Ritz took pity on our formerly Ritz-free lives and gave us a very un-Ritz discount to stay a few extra days. Perhaps they wanted to avoid the ugly scene of me being dragged from their hotel kicking and screaming. Also crying.
Good thinking, Ritz people.
Wine people are usually pretty happy, but take 1,000 wine people, send them to the Ritz on Maui to drink wine, and you get a whole lot of wine people in a really good mood. In fact, everyone on Maui was in a really good mood. It must be the flowered shirts, leis and all that Aloha-ing.
Aloha hello, Aloha goodbye, Aloha peace, Aloha spirit. You can add “Aloha” to almost anything and the more you say it, the better you feel. I can see why people visit Hawaii and never leave. It’s Aloha-gotcha.
Besides someone making the bed every day for me, I liked the Ritz pool the best. They give you not one but two towels, one for covering the lounge chair and one for drying off. The pool guy/gal comes over to take your drink order and then personally delivers your pineapple juice. At one point, a Ritz pool guy carrying a tray of fruit walked to the edge of the pool, put down the tray, dived into the water, uniform and all, and then picked up the tray and carried it around to reach those of us floating in the pool. As if we Ritz guests couldn’t possibly swim five feet to meet him at the edge of the pool. But the best part was when another Ritz pool guy came over with a little cloth and offered to clean my sunglasses for me.
I have arrived, I told the woman sitting next to me. I am never ever ever leaving the Ritz.
Of course, then I had to leave the Ritz. It was time to go home. A home where there is no pool with endless piles of freshly folded towels, I clean my own sunglasses and the pineapple comes in a can.
Aloha Maui. Aloha Ritz. I miss you already.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Grad girl

I’ve spent the past 17 years dropping off and picking up Huffman girls at our same elementary/middle school, but it’s all over.
The youngest Huffman has graduated from eighth grade.
I graduated too — I’m now the parent of only high school students. No more K-8 for me. I’ve mom-triculated.
Over the past school year, I’d been keeping track of each “last.” Last back to school night. Last Halloween carnival. Last Spuds with Buds lunch. Last jogathon. Last science fair.
As the mom of two older girls, I know what happens next. They go on to high school, and mom and dad are definitely not invited. High school doesn’t have room parents, Chinatown trip chaperones and Spaghetti with Your Sweetheart.
I saw it coming. Since the youngest Huffman started eighth grade, she made it clear that mom should not linger on the playground. I should also not: take any photos with my iPhone during morning assembly, talk to any of her friends or ask any questions upon picking her up after school. I should just drive. And immediately change the radio to Hits 1.
All the lasts left me feeling ridiculously nostalgic about anything to do with our school.
The other day, I stayed for one last morning assembly. I got all choked up during the Pledge of Allegiance. I’ll never say the Pledge at our school again!
I looked at the girls wearing their matching red plaid skirts. No Huffman girl will ever wear the plaid again!
I listened to our principal’s daily announcements, all of which seemed especially poignant. I’ll never hear the morning announcements again!
I took one last walk down the main hallway in the school. There were the dozens of graduating class photos lining the walls, the statue of Mary, Jenny, the school secretary and the little first-grader desks. I’ll never see them again!
Of course you will, I said. Snap out of it. The school isn’t going anywhere. But our girl definitely is.
The actual graduation ceremony distracted me from more moping about all the “lasts.” The eighth-graders were all dressed up in their Sunday best and looking very much like the 14- and almost-15-year-olds they are. The girls tottered down the aisle in their heels and new dresses, and the boys wore ties and new dress shirts.
Grandmas and grandpas, sisters and brothers, grads from years past and grads to come filled the church pews, hooting loudly for their favorites. The eighth-graders had prepared a song they’d spent weeks rehearsing. As they began to sing, our school’s music director moved her hands and arms, coaxing harmony from even the most reluctant teen singers.
Later, each grad gave their parents a flower and little note. “Thank you for the gift of love each day,” it read. “I don’t say it enough,” but “I love you.”
Are you crying? asked our middle daughter.
No, I said, as I wiped away my tears.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Got your goat

About a month ago, the youngest Huffman announced her news.
“I’m getting two goats,” she said.
Not being in charge of Huffman animals, I looked at my husband, who nodded to confirm.
Where exactly are we putting these two goats? I asked.
Down the street at the 4-H farm, she said.
All of my problems with the goats instantly evaporated. I don’t care how many goats we own just as long as they aren’t pooping in my backyard.
Apparently this is what happens in 4-H. The kids start with something small and portable like a bunny and next thing you know, you’re a goat farmer.
4-H goats work like this:
You get the goats. You feed the goats. You train the goats to walk around on a leash-type thing. You take the goats to the fair where you sell the goats.
You make a few bucks and someone else makes goat stew.
I like how goat ownership has a speedy beginning, middle and end including dollar signs.
After the goat delivery, we headed over to the farm to check them out. There they were, about 20 brown and white goats, along with a few sheep.
We visited before they’d been fed. Big mistake.
Do not visit goats that are expecting dinner. If you do not bring the dinner, the goats get m-a-d. The sheep will also be mad. And they will make a lot of noise to let you know just how mad they are.
Don’t try and explain to the mad goats/sheep that you are very sorry about not bringing food because you are only visiting. This will only make them madder.
There was a cute little cow in another pen next to the goats. She was not mad. She was frisky and practically pranced along next to the fence when we walked by. Who knew a cow could act like a puppy?
Later my husband corrected me.
That’s not a cow, he said. That’s a steer.
Gotcha, Mr. I Grew Up On A Farm.
I discovered that the goats aren’t like a puppy. They don’t want to be petted. They don’t even want to be touched. When our girl got into their pen, they ran to one corner. When she walked over to them, they ran to the other corner. It was like a game of chase, which is not how you train a goat, my husband informed us. Do not chase the goats, he said.
In the middle of the pen was a tree stump. I assumed it was for the goat owner to sit and pet her goats, a la “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm,” but instead, the goats used it as a scouting platform, probably for a better view of who is bringing them dinner.
The goats warily eyed our girl while she tried to entice them over for a snack of some Wheat Thins. Eventually the bravest of the two, now named Caramel, managed a quick nibble before running away. The not-so-brave goat, named Snickers, kept his distance.
I think someone must have told him about the goat stew.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Jury Mom

Some people are afraid of spiders, clowns or horror movies.
I used to fear jury duty.
This was back when our three girls were single digits and my day was a nonstop marathon of waking, dressing, feeding, napping, making dinner, supervising three baths and pretty much dropping dead at about 8 p.m. each night.
How would I manage all that and a jury? Sure, you get some piddly amount for a stipend but that definitely wouldn’t pay for a baby sitter for three kids. My husband could take over mommy duty but who would do his job?
Whenever I got the dreaded red jury notice, I immediately checked the box for the 90-day extension and then usually a second 90-day extension, praying that the jury choosers would eventually forget about me and my three kids. The few times I had to call in for jury selection the night before, I’d cross my fingers. Please don’t pick me. Please, please, please.
Even before kids, I hated getting called because my employer didn’t pay for jury duty. That didn’t stop me from getting summoned for a jury in San Francisco when I lived in the city. It was an attempted murder trial, but all I heard was “murder.”
It was a novelty for about two hours but then I realized that being on a jury would seriously cut into my single-girl lifestyle. The attorneys eyeing potential jurors probably saw a spacey 20-something who could barely concentrate on what she was doing in the next two hours let alone the next two days. I was excused.
Smart move, Judge. I was in no condition to be serving up justice on attempted murderers or anyone else.
I once got called for jury duty in Napa while I was still nursing one baby. I panicked. How was I going to feed my baby every three hours if I got seated on a jury? Whip out a breast pump during cross examination? Smuggle her in under an XL maternity blouse? Or just wear her in a Baby Bjorn and let the defense get an earful of hungry baby? Luckily for me and the entire criminal justice system, I was dismissed early on.
The other day, a co-worker got called for jury duty. But instead of my usual thankgoodnessitsnotme, I realized that I actually wouldn’t mind being on a jury.
Our girls are pretty much self-sustainable these days. My job pays me for jury duty. It’d be like a vacation but without using any vacation days. I’m a naturally curious person – I think it would be cool to be part of a trial. In the jury box, I mean.
And what if I was on a jury trial where I had to be sequestered?
No TV, no Internet, no cellphone. After jury duty, I’d have to sit around all by myself and read books. All meals would be provided. I’d get maid service and stay in a hotel room.
Napa attorneys: Give me a call. I’m all yours.

Monday, April 28, 2014


It had been four months since we’d seen College Girl, so of course everyone wanted maximum face time with the family VIP when she came to Napa for Easter.
Let’s go shopping together for an Easter outfit, said mom.
Check out my cactus garden, said Grandpa.
Come with me to my boyfriend’s track meet, said one sister.
Watch me breed my rabbits, said the other sister.
After a few suspicious sniffs, even the dog wanted to hang out with her.
I was in a good mood all weekend. College Girl’s sisters were probably wondering what had come over mom. I said yes to almost everything. I took the girls to the mall and out to dinner almost every night. At Target, I let them talk me into buying both the new Hobbit movie and “Frozen.”
At Starbucks, instead of our usual $2 rule, my husband turned into Daddy Warbucks and told everyone to get whatever they wanted.
College kids, if you haven’t visited home lately, you should definitely reconsider. Us mom and dads miss you and want to buy you all the Frappuccinos and hot panini sandwiches you can eat.
The teenager who comes home from college is really something.
They’ve got swagger. Attitude. Chutzpah. They’ve lived away from mom and dad long enough to appreciate in-house laundry service, free food and a full tank of gas, but they’ve also got that new almost-20-something confidence.
They have been thrust out into the wilderness and survived. Kind of like Tom Hanks in “Cast Away”: “I have made fire. I. Have made fire.”
College Girl even surprised mom a couple of times over the weekend.
When one Huffman daughter complained about not having any spending money, College Girl laid it out for her.
You need to get a job, she told her sister.
When another Huffman daughter warned her sister about saying anything that might make for good column material, College Girl shrugged her shoulders as if to say, “So what?”
That’s not to say the oldest Huffman is all that. Mom had to put the kibosh on the swearing.
I don’t care how old you are, your mother doesn’t want to hear four-letter words coming out of your mouth.
By the time we sat down to Easter dinner, I started getting sad feelings.
College Girl had to go back to college. Mom and Dad had to go back to work. There would be no more spoiling. No more shopping.
She left early on Monday morning to catch a 6:30 a.m. flight.
I looked inside her room after she left. I’d gotten used to seeing her in there again, sitting on her bed with her laptop, clothes spilling out of her suitcase on the floor, blankets and pillows thrown around.
But that morning, the room was empty. Her pile of clothes and the suitcase were gone. She had even made her bed.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Mom, the review

Does anyone actually enjoy doing an employee “self-evaluation”?
Not me.
Talk about what I could have done better? Improved on? Actually did well?
Do I have to? I have a deadline and an interview and I really need to go to the bathroom. Plus I am very busy with a bunch of other very important random stuff.
It doesn’t matter. About once a year, my computer tells me it’s time to do my so-called “review.”
As I was answering the questions last week I wondered what it’d be like to do a mom review instead of a work review.
Of course we moms don’t actually get reviewed, except by our teenagers and usually starting with the words “You’re so mean …”
Reviews are typically tied to rewards, the best being a raise of actual money. But we moms definitely don’t get yearly raises or bonuses.
Heck, if I get two loads of laundry washed and folded and put away in less than 24 hours, that’s a bonus. If I can finish all my daily chores before 8 p.m., bonus!
My main goal each night is to get some form of dinner on the table and make sure no one is flunking any subjects required to graduate from high school.
I don’t worry about “contributing skills that complement other team members” while I’m simultaneously cooking dinner, sorting the mail, feeding the cat and emptying the dishwasher.
Employee self-evaluation talk includes a lot of phrases such as: “Fulfills commitments to team members,” “Demonstrates genuine value of others” and “Communicates effectively.”
It’s so much easier to concentrate on these at work, where I am being paid to do so. The “work” is spread among many at work. And boy we are on it at work. We’re focused. We’re determined. We’re caffeinated.
At home, it’s just me and my husband. We are also very focused and determined — usually about figuring out who’s taking whom to school tomorrow, why the rain is leaking into my car and if anyone scooped the dog poop lately.
At work I’m supposed to “persist in overcoming obstacles.”
As moms, we’ve got that covered. We parents do an awful lot of persisting. Teenagers do an awful lot of resisting. If they would just stop all the resisting we’d all get along so much better and peace and harmony would reign in the family and the world. Everyone make a circle now and let’s sing a folk song. Come on teenagers, hold hands with your mom and dad. We don’t have cooties.
My review also included a bunch of examples of “STOPetencies” or “Contrary Behaviors” to beware of.
According to the review form, contrary behaviors are things like relying on others to decide what to do, resisting change and using words like “That’s not my job.”
Hello teenagers? My employee self-review is calling and it wants you to stop resisting and persisting and being all contrary all the time.
Also could you please scoop the dog poop?

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Fear the beard

A funny thing started to happen to my husband’s face a few weeks ago.
Hair kept growing on the bottom of it. And growing.
It’s a beard, he said, when I asked him what was going on.
I’m growing a beard.
My husband has been known to grow a goatee or mustache/chin hair combo. Even a short, trimmed up beard. But this was definitely Beard 2.0. And it was getting longer by the day.
Here’s the thing about beards. They don’t just arrive full grown. They kind of sneak up on the people you live with. If the man of the house stops shaving, it takes about a week before the rest of us catch wind of this new creation. And then one day there it is.
A beard.
What’s the inspiration for the beard? I asked.
He reminded me about the upcoming wine competitions he’ll be judging at. I guess most wine judge types go for the clean-shaved look.
A beard might be one way of differentiating himself amidst the other oenophiles sniffing inside their wine glasses.
Or maybe the beard will help capture the wine “bouquet” more effectively.
Either way, he’ll definitely stand out.
The girls were a little dubious about Dad’s new look.
How long are you going to let it grow? they asked.
Is it hot?
Is it itchy?
Is that all gray hair?
The reporter in me was also curious. What kind of beard are you going for?
Former Giant Brian Wilson? Merlin Olsen from “Little House on the Prairie”? “Duck Dynasty”?
None of the above, apparently. After some consideration, he texted me his beard inspirations: sailor Sven Yrvind, castaway Tom Hanks and Zach Galifianakis.
I had to Google the first guy. Sure enough, he’s a sailor who possesses some mighty facial hair. And all white, I should note.
Tom Hanks’ beard in “Cast Away” was quite magnificent, too.
I don’t know about the third reference. Maybe I’ve got the “Hangover” movies on my mind but I kind of wonder how clean Zach Galifianakis keeps his beard.
Turns out that once you have a beard, it’s like joining a new club.
My husband has reported that beard wearers like to acknowledge each other.
Kind of like when a woman sees another woman wearing a really cute pair of shoes. Only beard guys just nod in a manly way at each other. They don’t ask where the other guy got his beard and if it was on sale.
After Googling Sven Yrvind, I came across this Australian guy by the name of Jimmy Niggles. In honor of a good friend who passed away, he’s been growing a beard for years.
And it really is some beard — thick, reddish brown and very long. He claims it’s worth a million bucks, but I think we might have a contender right here in Napa.
Our beard is definitely worth at least half that.

Monday, March 17, 2014

SAT survival

What’s worse than waking your teenager up early on a Saturday morning?
Waking your teenager up early on a Saturday morning so she can take a test.
Not just any test. The SAT.
Yeah, that test. The one that certain colleges are apparently sooooo into. And take very seriously, as in without a score of approximately 3,951 you’re not coming to our college, no way, no how. We don’t care who your momma is.
Scholarship givers are also kind of obsessed with SAT numbers.
For example, the highest score wins. Which I guess is OK if you are the one with the money and in charge of handing it out.
But we are not the ones with the money, we are the ones looking for the money, which meant that last weekend I had the Worst Mom Job Ever — waking our 16-year-old up early so she could go do a whole bunch of math at 8:30 a.m. on a Saturday.
Proper Photo Identification is another big SAT thing.
Apparently — shocker! — there are some students who imagine they can send some super-smart impostor to take the SAT test for them.
This explains why I had to spend three days hounding our 11th-grader about finding her student ID so she could prove to those SAT ID checkers that she really was her super-smart self.
SAT testers are very specific about what to bring on test day:
Exactly two No. 2 pencils and a “soft” eraser.
A snack.
A water bottle.
But no cellphones. Students caught using cellphones can get kicked out of the SAT.
No parent who just paid $50 to make her teenager do word problems on a Saturday morning wants to get a call an hour later saying come get your kid who just got kicked out of the SAT for texting her boyfriend.
Students also need a high-tech calculator (the kind that always seems to be missing the day before test day) and extra batteries.
The day before the test, I put new batteries into the calculator, and then put it, along with the pencils, eraser, student ID, test ticket, a water bottle and a snack, into a big Ziploc bag.
There. Everything is perfectly visible and nice and organized. I can now continue my fretting about those weird SAT analogy questions and square roots.
At the school that morning, I handed our girl the plastic baggie with her test-taking survival items securely zippered within.
“A Ziploc bag?” she said. Really?
It’s all there, I said. Ready to go.
Grumbling, she got out of the car, Ziploc bag in hand.
Four hours later, I waited outside the school. As the kids started leaving the classrooms, no one looked overly traumatized.
Most of them just looked like they wanted to take a nap.
Right before our girl came out, I saw one boy leaving.
Guess what he was carrying?
A big Ziploc bag with a water bottle and calculator in it.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Here kitty kitty

One Huffman daughter accused me of wanting to get a cat so I’d have something to pick up and cuddle.
Hey, if certain teenagers let me pick them up and hug them, I would. It’s not my fault they don’t want to sit on my lap anymore.
The Huffman cat talk got real after a visit to the animal shelter where we clamped eyes on a black kitten with white paws, white whiskers — and get this — a little white mustache. Nothing is cuter than a cat with a mini mustache.
On her first day in her new home, the kitty took tentative steps and slowly inched her way around the floor of the girls’ bedroom.
Oh she’s shy, I thought. How cute.
The whole “I’m so shy” thing didn’t last long.
About 12 minutes later the cat figured out she had the whole house to conquer, which she immediately did, to the dog’s distress.
She bounded up the stairs like a kitty version of Mount Everest. She climbed the screen door like Kitten and the Beanstalk.
She used dad’s beard as a grooming tool. She scaled the pant legs of one Huffman daughter like a ladder.
She also spent a fair amount of time chasing her own tail, randomly scurrying from room to room and walking on keyboards while humans tried to type.
It’s been two weeks since the kitty, now named Inky, became a part of the family. Even the dog is semi-tolerating her cuteness, although usually while attempting to sniff her butt.
Sure there were some wrong turns. The kitty pooped in some wrong places. She peed in another wrong place. She almost gave the dog a heart attack when she tried to eat the dog’s food.
Apparently it is very hard work being a kitten and frequent rest breaks are needed. The kitty has napped on laps, on iPads, on shoulders and in a squished up cardboard box.
She napped with her head upside down, hidden under a pillow and all four paws in the air à la “dead cat.” She does not seem to do much napping at night, which lead to some serious strategizing of where the cat should sleep. As in, alone.
Before we got our kitten, cats were pretty much off my radar. Not anymore.
YouTube cat videos? Hilarious! Kitty pictures on Facebook? Can’t get enough of them! Cat toys at Target? Buying them! All!
I believe Inky approves of her new home because she purrs. A lot. There’s nothing like a purring kitten to make a grown-up go all gushy inside.
A purring kitten is like Valium for the ears. It puts you in a purring trance. This could be useful for the next time the girls break out in a fight. I’ll just pass them the purring kitten and see how long the battle lasts.
I knew a cat would be good for something.

Monday, February 17, 2014

First pet

A lot of couples test the parenthood waters by getting a pet. I guess we figure if we can keep an animal alive, we might stand a chance at keeping a baby human alive.
This explains how my husband and I, newlyweds in the ’90s, ended up with our first pet, a gray and black striped tabby cat.
We found our cat stashed in a little cage at a plant nursery near our home in West Des Moines, Iowa. My husband walked by and the cat reached its paw outside the cage like it was trying to grab him with his claws. It worked because we came home with our kitten that day. First we named her Jezebel, but after our new vet pointed out that our new cat was a “he” instead of a “she,” he became Desi.
Desi was with us for all the highlights of our expanding family. He’s in the videos of us bringing home our first baby, then the second and the third. I had wanted a lap cat, but Desi was not the lap type. He’d hang out nearby, but not on top of you. He had all of his claws and he was not afraid to use them.
We have a lot of Desi stories — like the Christmas when he sliced his belly open on something in the basement. He’d catch flies and let them buzz around inside his mouth before opening up and letting them go. One time he let us know he was locked in our car by turning on the turn signal switch with his paw. He also did his fair share of annoying cat stuff like clawing new furniture, barfing on the carpet and peeing in a basket of clean laundry.
He made the move with us back to California, barely. On the day my husband left Des Moines in the U-Haul, Desi was nowhere to be found. I guess he figured this packing up stuff had nothing to do with him. A day later, when the cat finally decided to come home, I had to persuade the new owners of our house to put him on a plane to ship him our way. The cat never knew how close he came to becoming a permanent Iowa resident.
Back on the West Coast, Desi was with us for another handful of years until he died of old age in 2007. I think he was 13. When I took off his collar for the last time, I rubbed his soft little nose, something he would never have tolerated when he was alive. I clipped a little bit of his fur, too, and put it in a little bag to keep. For a long time I missed him every day, even his claws.
I think we went a little pet crazy after that. Dad got a dog. The littlest Huffman started a rabbit breeding business. The oldest brought home a guinea pig and f-e-r-r-e-t-s. There were fish and turtles. Mice. Some kind of lizard thing.
The girls learned how to be “responsible” pet owners. Not every pet was a success — I refer to the infamous “ferrets in the closet” incident of 2012. Today, I’m happy to say that they do a good job of taking care of our animals. There’s even talk of getting a goat for a 4-H project.
But now I think it’s Mom’s turn to pick out a pet. And I know exactly what I’m going to get.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Tattoo U

I think oldest daughter is either planning to or has already gotten a tattoo.
Number one, she’s a 19-year-old college student. Two, she already got her nose pierced. Three, she lives in Boulder, the Berkeley of the Rockies. Four, she’s an artist. Five, did I mention she’s a 19-year-old college student?
Do I want our girl to get a tattoo?
Will I tell her this?
No way.
We moms of 19-year-olds know that the more we protest against something, the more likely it is that said 19-year-old will up and do that very thing anyway. Tonight.
If you have a teenager who’s even remotely inclined to get a tattoo, the worst thing you can do is tell them what a “bad idea” that is.
You might as well buy the tattoo gun yourself and hand it over to them. With a bottle of rubbing alcohol and some sterilized cotton balls, of course.
I don’t have anything against tattoos. I just don’t want any on my body or any body of any child of mine.
Our girls have wrinkle-free, primarily pierce-free and ink-free skin. Let’s keep it that way.
No offense Kat Von D, supermodels and famous musicians with tattoos. You’re rocking that tattoo look. You also don’t have day jobs with bosses.
Sure, our girl just got her nose pierced. No big deal. Nose studs can be removed one day. Tattoos, not so much.
The few times I have said anything to our girls about tattoos, I’ve used the My Little Pony analogy.
Remember how much you loved My Little Pony when you were in second grade?
What if you got a My Little Pony tattoo back then? Now that you’re in college would you still be loving that tattoo of Sparkle Fluttershy?
(Parents, substitute your own Hello Kitty, Polly Pocket or Taylor Lautner analogy here.)
Faded Winnie the Poohs on ankles, droopy butterflies on saggy thighs, tramp stamps, ’80s-style Pamela Anderson barbed wire armbands, “The Hangover Part II.” We’ve all seen “good” tattoos gone bad.
What if our girl has already gone and gotten her tattoo?
Nothing I can do about it. I don’t want details. Keep me in the dark, please. I’m doing just fine here with my head firmly buried in the sand.
I don’t need any real or imagined tattoo translated, explained or pointed out. I don’t need to picture an ink-covered tattoo artist jabbing tiny needles into my daughter’s tender arm and offering a discount on a second tattoo. I want to remember her skin in mint condition.
I could try a little Mom-style reverse psychology. I could tell our girl that I’ve been thinking of getting a tattoo. Maybe we should get matching mother/daughter tattoos! Wouldn’t that be fun?
Actually, there is one tattoo that I would approve of.
It starts with an “I,” ends with a “Mom,” and has a heart in the middle of it.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Werk it

I’ve been running for almost a year now, but when it comes to workouts like yoga, Zumba and Pilates, I’m totally out of the loop.
The last group exercise class I did was aerobics … in 1997.
I’ve heard of “downward dog” but I couldn’t tell you what one is or how the “dog” gets down. The only thing I know about Pilates is that Pilates People Like It Spelled With a Capital P. And “Zumba”? It makes me think of some kind of Brazilian scooter.
But since the end of daylight saving time robbed me of my after-work running time, I figured I’d try a group workout again.
I started with a ballet barre-style group class at a local fitness studio.
We did a lot of squats in the barre class. We did squats with our right foot on tippy toes. We did squats with our left foot on tippy toes. We did squats on top of squats. I’m sure my thighs were wondering why they were being picked on so much, but it was for their own good.
It wasn’t all ballet moves at the barre class. We also got out a big rubber ball and did situps while lying backward on the ball. Well, everyone else was doing situps. I was just trying not to roll off the ball.
Another week I tried something called piloxing — or Pilates/boxing.
I’ve never boxed before, which was probably obvious when I put my special piloxing gloves on backward.
But it turns out that boxing is kind of fun, especially when you think of people you wouldn’t mind knocking out — like mouthy teenagers, backseat drivers or uncooperative journalistic sources.
During piloxing, we jabbed right. We jabbed left. We jabbed double time and super double time while running in place. I felt like a very sweaty female Rocky Balboa.
I took a Zumba class next.
Zumba is like aerobics and dancing to Latin-inspired music.
Sounds doable, right? Yeah, if you’ve got rhythm. And coordination.
I liked the Zumba music. It’s too bad my arms and legs didn’t like working as a team.
There were two other things that I realized didn’t go together — this 40-something mom and Zumba’s hip-hop dance moves.
At one part of the class, we bounced back and forth doing a kind of a “fling your arms in the air like you just don’t care” move while pogo-ing from one side to another.
“Pop your booty,” yelled the instructor, as she twisted and shook her fat-free behind.
“Pump it, pump it!”
Am I twerking? If only my teenagers could see me now.
My booty popping was so bad, Miley Cyrus’ grandma could probably twerk better than me.
I had been keeping up with my Zumba teacher about 75 percent of the time ... until she introduced a new dance step combination. She started out in slo-mo and then she kicked in into high gear, leaving me in her Zumba dust.
But I’m not quitting. I’m going to twerk on it.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Take a break

Jennifer Huffman is on vacation.
Her column will return in two weeks when a number of Christmas/end-of-2013 questions could be answered.
For starters:
Did College Girl’s flight home arrive on time and was the airport reunion like what mom and dad imagined?
Did all family members, including grandparents, get enough face time with College Girl during her visit?
Did mom get her fill of hugs from College Girl?
Did her younger sisters get their fill of big sister? Or were they happy to wave goodbye to College Girl so they could take over her room again?
Did middle daughter clean out her bedroom closet like mom hoped she would?
As the foster parent of College Girl’s ferret, did the two sisters fight over the pet?
And did anyone bother to clean out the ferret’s cage?
Did the Huffman girls see their out-of-town cousins for Christmas and did all cousins return to their respective homes lice-free, unlike a previous visit that someone has been forbidden to write about?
Did all Huffmans make Santa’s “nice” list this year?
Was Santa able to find the Huffman house on Dec. 25?
How many times did mom have to invoke “the meaning of Christmas” during the past two weeks? How many times on Christmas Day itself?
Is dad happy with the new power tools that mom picked out at Home Depot?
Is he impressed that mom now understands the difference between 18-volt and 20-volt DeWalt cordless impact drivers?
Is mom happy with her Christmas gifts? Translation: Is she wearing a new pair of Uggs today?
Did mom find time to make the Christmas cookies she bought all the ingredients for or did someone just eat all of the semisweet chocolate morsels straight out of the bag?
Do her pants still fit after two weeks of pumpkin pie, cookie and chocolate eating?
Which of the following movies did the Huffman family watch over Christmas: “The Polar Express,” “The Sound of Music,” “It’s a Wonderful Life” or “Anchorman 2’’?
Did the family’s 16-year-old couch with the broken springs finally succumb over the holidays and if so, has dad’s new Barcalounger been delivered yet?
How many times did mom have to ask the girls to write their “thank you” notes and have they actually been mailed yet?
Did mom manage to read that new Stephen King novel or is it still on the floor by the bed?
Did mom catch up on her sleep?
Is she ready for 2014?
Jennifer Huffman is on vacation. Her column will return in two weeks.