Scenes from Casa Kauffman

Me, after a trip to the dentist: It’s been a rough day. I have a cavity.

Seymour: *sadface* Do you need a hug?

Me: As a matter of fact, yes. I’ve never had a cavity before.

Seymour: It’ll be okay.

Me: But I was very proud of my no-cavity streak.

Seymour: Look at it this way – after having a cesarean, getting a filling will be child’s play.

Miss Tadpole: Dad, that pun is a bit childish, don’t you think?

Me: I love my family.

Have you ever had a cavity? What’s the lobgest you’ve gone without one?

(c) 2017. All rights reserved.


I haven’t been writing, and I miss it.

I’ve watched TV. I’ve read blogs. I’ve come up with a thousand brilliant ideas that quickly vanished into the ether. I’ve played a lot of Pokémon Go (Go Team Mystic!).

But I haven’t been writing, and it’s left a void.

Getting back in the habit is…

The wheel behind the squeak

It’s always the quiet ones.

You know, the ones you have to watch out for. The quiet ones blend into the background. They do a good job of it, too – they’re quiet, after all, and it’s the squeaky wheel that gets the grease, not the silent one.

Not the timid girl in the corner desk.

Maybe you don’t even notice. Maybe you never heard her heart screaming her frustration, or begging for a kind word. Maybe you did, but you don’t care.

Maybe she didn’t want you to, but maybe she did. What if she did?

Maybe she wears neutral colors because she’s afraid of loud noises. Maybe she’s afraid to be loud, to draw attention to herself because attention means she’d have to open up to others. Maybe the last time she came out of her shell, it was crushed by the person she trusted most in the world, and she had to find a new shell, a harder shell, to protect her fragile self.

Sometimes the squeaky wheel doesn’t need the grease – sometimes it just needs someone to listen. Grease will silence the squeak, but maybe that’s not the point. Maybe the point is for someone to notice the wheel behind the squeak.

Maybe the squeak isn’t something wrong, but something right.

Maybe it means that that timid girl is trying out her voice, trying it on for size. Maybe that little, tiny squeak is really incredibly loud, and she’s trying to figure out how to modulate her volume. Wouldn’t you feel terrible for silencing that squeak?

Because that’s what the grease does. It quiets the squeak.

It’s always the quiet ones.

(c) 2016. All rights reserved.

Camp what?

So sometime last month (I think), in a fit of enthusiasm, I signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo. It’s essentially the same as the November event, but with more flexibility regarding word counts. And cabins (hi, bunkies!). And it’s a lot of fun.

But it’s seven days into the camping season and, so far, I haven’t written a word. (I have gone actual camping, but that’s another story for another time.) As a matter of fact, I switched projects. After realizing that I wasn’t sure exactly what I was trying to do with the novel I’ve spent years tinkering with, I shifted gears and moved onto something else.

I made a decent start on a new/old story and got a little feedback that had me second-guessing pretty much every aspect of my writing life. I got similar feedback on something else, which led to third-guessing my ability to write professionally, period. Then I tried to eat my weight in chips, fiesta ranch dip, and parade candy.

Suffice it to say, it’s been a rough week. Month. Whatever.

And it seems it’s not just me having a rough time of it lately. Between Brexit and the upcoming election here in the States, it seems a little like the world is trying to tear itself apart. Yesterday I read three different posts about people being tired. And not the usual, “Oh, I had a late night,” kind of tired, either. I’m talking the kind of existential exhaustion you feel in the marrow of your bones, the kind that makes you wonder why you even bother to get out of bed in the morning, let alone face the world. The kind of weariness that tells you that dreaming is hard, and it’s just not worth the effort, and the odds of success are astronomical, so why even try?

I’ve avoided the news for months now because paying attention to it depresses me. I joke about living under a rock, but the truth is that it’s quite nice here. Then I log into Facebook, and see things about how politics are destroying friendships, and my heart hurts. I was actually nauseated a week or so ago after reading that someone I consider a good friend had been deeply hurt by someone she considered a close friend, but whose politics differed greatly from hers. I was left reeling, and it wasn’t even my friendship that had been broken.

Why can’t we all just get along? I wondered.

This post is the first thing I’ve written in some time. You see, I’ve become paralyzed by fear. And I hate it. I’ve been inspired to write before now, but the Doubt Monster always crept in, whispering fearsome things and stilling my pen, relaxing my fingers. Doubt is a slimy, scaly beast, and I’m tired of tangling with him. Fear is his even uglier bosom buddy, and I’ve had it with him, too.

So this is me, trying to rid myself of the Ugly Twins, trying to break free of the paralysis. The silence round these parts will likely continue for a while, but I hope it won’t be quite as quiet as it has been lately. If I’m still, I can almost feel the fire stirring inside me again, the fire to write, to live, to be instead of to do. My embers are slowly warming, and one day soon, a crackling blaze will light my blog again.

In the meantime, though, the coals are perfect for s’mores…

How is summer treating you?

(c) 2016. All rights reserved.

I feel lucky

dandyAll kids drive their parents crazy, some more than others. Take Thumper, for instance. He’s my baby, the youngest of my four children, and the reason I can’t have nice things. He’s the reason I started sprouting gray hair before I hit thirty, the reason I’m sick of my own name, and the probable cause for any alcoholism his daycare teachers may suffer from.

But you know what? He’s perfect. He may be stubborn to a fault and have more energy than any one person should ever have, but he’s also the happiest four-year-old I’ve ever met. He has such a good heart, even when he’s feeling ornery, and he’s so stinkin’ adorable that I can never stay mad at him for long. I am lucky to be his mother.

For the record, I am lucky to be mother (and stepmother) to three other pretty fantastic kids, too. But I feel especially lucky to be Thumper’s mother, because I almost wasn’t, a fact I was reminded of last night.

We’ve been having…

Photo 365 #339

I love you, tiny human.

“I love you, tiny human. I think I’ll keep you.”


One of our cats isn’t doing well.  Poor Buddy seems to be the target of the neighborhood bully.  I don’t know who (or what) is beating him up, but the poor guy is really suffering.  We cleaned out a wound near his eye last weekend, and this afternoon we went to clean it again and discovered an abscess on top of his head.

The poor thing is just miserable, and I feel miserable for him.

I was going to share a picture from the local paper today; there’s an article in it about my upcoming book signing, but I think I’ll wait a day or so.  Poor Buddy’s at the top of my thoughts at the moment, so here’s a picture of him from earlier this year, snuggling up to Cricket one morning as I was heading off to work.  He’s one of the most affectionate cats I’ve ever had the privilege to know, and I hope he makes it through this.

How do you cope with an ill pet?

(c) 2015.  All rights reserved.


The sky is a beautiful blue today.  Here and there I can see a wisp of cloud stretched out like gauze.  The sun is shining, there is a bit of a breeze, and the humidity is down, keeping the 90° temperatures bearable and keeping my kids in school all day.

My kids, now there’s a thought.  Today is so much like another September Tuesday that it’s really quite eerie, only I was the kid then.  I was the one getting ready to head off to school that Tuesday morning, under skies that were just as blue, with clouds that were just as gauzy and sun that shone just as brightly.

That Tuesday was eleven years ago today.

Circumstantial influence

Due to circumstances beyond my control, my usual Photo Friday post didn’t make it yesterday. As a result of other circumstances somewhat more within my sphere of influence, I’ve now had time to put it together. Stay tuned – it should be up this afternoon!

(c) 2012. All rights reserved.

Redefining extraordinary


This post began its humble life as a comment on my friend Tricia’s blog post “Extraordinary.”  It was late and I began writing, suddenly wide awake.  Pretty soon, I realized that my comment could easily become as long as her actual post if I wasn’t careful.

I first read Tricia’s post on Griffin’s Quill and I found it absolutely amazing because I’ve been dealing with so many of the feelings she mentions in her post myself lately.  So much of my life is one long, monotonous march toward the end – the end of the laundry, the end of the dishes, the endless cries of, “Don’t do that!” and “Don’t hit your brother!” and “Play nice!” and “Stay in bed, for the love of God!”  It’s dreary and dreadful and mind-numbingly boring some days.  I feel like I’m living in a fog.

But then, I open a book.