Hmmmmmm (a silly, little grammar lesson)

Hmmmmmm (a silly, little grammar lesson)

“Mommy, look, the sky is all blue and white,” my first-born says a decade ago while buckled in her booster seat in the back of the car on the way to preschool.

I glance in the rear-view mirror and see her stretching her neck to see more sky, the sun splashing on her little brunette bob haircut that frames her face like Dora the Explorer, her favorite back then.

“Yeah, those clouds sure are fluffy aren’t they? I wish I could have one as my pillow,” I say.

“Me, too,” she says.

“How do you think we might get one?” I ask.

“Hmmmmmm. I think I might need my stool,” she says.

“Hmmmmmm. I think so, too. I say.

Apparently the latest New Year’s trend is to choose a word of the year instead of resolutions that set us up for failure. So I’ve decided—in  honor of that inquisitive little moment of infinite possibilities lodged in my memories and recorded in my journal—that my word of the year is going to be Hmmmmmm.

Continue reading

I Only Knew Her Peanut-Butter-Lovin’ Son from Fliers Taped on Storefronts

I Only Knew Her Peanut-Butter-Lovin’ Son from Fliers Taped on Storefronts

Author’s Notes: I published this essay on the 26th anniversary of Jacob’s disappearance. As we approach the 27th anniversary, it has recently been announced his remains have been found and his killer, Danny Heinrich, has confessed. A link to the news report is located at the end of this essay. My heart goes out to the Wetterling family. I am deeply grateful to them for all they’ve done to empower the rest of us in our efforts to keep our children safe. 


As I look out my kitchen window and watch leaves fall from trees, I sometimes wonder what her quiet moments are like, still grieving the son who used to dive onto her bed like Superman.

Jacob Erwin Wetterling. Snatched into oblivion at the age of 11 on Oct. 22, 1989, by a masked gunman quarter-mile from his home and down the country road from my college campus in rural St. Joseph, Minnesota.

Continue reading

Matchmaker, Misfit, and Mom at Midlife Asks What’s Next?

Matchmaker, Misfit, and Mom at Midlife Asks What’s Next?

Each fall, I take on the role as matchmaker. I line up a bunch of singles and do my best to pair them up.

I admit, sometimes I bring two together that aren’t perfectly matched. I figure they have enough similarities to make it work.

Still, there are always a few misfits leftover. They’re either too short, too tall, too worn out, or too offbeat to hook up with the others. I don’t mean to be ruthless, but it’s the end of the line for those mavericks. Time to let ‘em go.

Continue reading

The August Dental Appointment

The August Dental Appointment

Typically, when I’m seated in the dental chair with my mouth getting poked and scraped with sharp, pointy metal things, my mind drifts to far away places.

But this time, amidst the high-pitched EEEeeee-EEEeee-EEEEeeee of drills, I kept getting pulled back to reality by the syrupy, buoyant voice of my nine-year-old chatting with her hygienist in the room across the hall.

Continue reading

Up North and a Minnesota Goodbye

Up North and a Minnesota Goodbye

If you’re new to Minnesota or planning an extended visit, it’s helpful to know a little something about a place we locals call Up North.

Up North is a luscious land we go to boat, fish, hike, camp, buy a can of pop in the lodge of a ma and pa resort, enjoy sunsets from somebody else’s in-law’s cabin, and watch storm warnings scroll on the bottom of a TV screen while filling up on tater tots and tap beer at places named Last Turn Saloon or Pitstop—where you can still play Pac-Man for a quarter.

Continue reading

Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay

Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay

I lived in a lot of houses growing up (with the same family though). Big ones, little ones, old ones, a few rented ones. But the one I lived in the longest and bonded with the most was a red brick house on a lake.

It had a large, quirky dock with grass in the middle that served as the main summer hang-out for me and my eight brothers and sisters.

Continue reading

Which Moments Will They Remember?

Which Moments Will They Remember?

Our lives are made up of small moments. There are those moments we forget, or try to forget, and those we remember and cherish.

To me, these small moments are like luminous stars in the sky, guiding my journey ahead and shedding light on the experiences and people who’ve shaped me into the person I am today.

I often wonder, which moments will my children remember?

Continue reading

Beauty in Humble Places

Beauty in Humble Places

On the first day of school in that one-room, country schoolhouse, most of the other kids raced to the bigger, newer, shinier desks.

But little Diane, the one with a gleam in her eye and potato in her lunch bucket, who would one day become my mother, slid knowingly into the smallest, most unassuming one of them all.

Continue reading