Author: Sarah Herrick

the unnecessary essentials

I don’t think we ever outgrow having pacifiers. They change shape, but we all have that one thing that we feel most comfortable having with us. Might be wearing makeup. Or having a cell phone in your pocket. A certain necklace. A photo of your family tucked in your wallet. I can’t leave home without a book. I know perfectly well that I will not shrivel up and die if I don’t have a book with me. I will, in fact, still be able to function just fine and get everything done that I need to do, and go where I need to go. But, darn it, I won’t be as comfortable as I am when I have a book with me. A book in my purse means I will never be bored. No matter how my plans change, how long I end up stuck in that waiting room, how long the start of a meeting is delayed, how many minutes it takes that tow truck to reach me, how many eons it takes my kids’ activities to wrap up while I sit in the parking lot, I will always have something entertaining to do. It’s my alone time even when I’m in a crowd of people. I’ll just read. I was that kid, back when it was okay to call a kid with glasses “four-eyes” and a kid...

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The DITL Challenge

I’ve done this before. The Day In the Life Of a Working Mom challenge. You take pictures or write down everything you do in a single day. If you’re a new family, this often leads to revelations about the balance you and your partner have in household chores and a new appreciation for the wild ride parenting has sent you on. Cuteness of the newest family member is also a factor, and pets may come into play. The DITL challenge with older kids holds fewer revelations, but is still fun for me. It’s a snapshot into a busy time in our lives, with kids who are going to be going off and doing their own things sooner than I’m ready for. I imagine that this picture of our lives will ring true with many of our readers, as there are some things about this working parent life that are universal. Like multitasking. Case in point, I’m crowded on the couch with both girls while I write this because they’re feeling cuddly, Jurassic Park on in the background, one kid on her phone, another on her laptop, and I’m bouncing back and forth between typing and making dinner for five (our neighbor might be coming over). Folded laundry is piled next to me because I got it clean and sorted, but haven’t put it away yet. My husband is finishing...

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The Most Dangerous Month

December is known as a dangerous month. Around the holidays, sometimes just dealing with family is enough to send a person over the edge. We’ve also become aware that folks who are alone, who have suffered losses, who are struggling are at risk of suicide during the holidays. That feeling of loss and separation set against the backdrop of celebration and family time can be insurmountable. Now there are public service announcements, suicide prevention lines, and community events set up to prevent the worst of the December damage. January is known as a dark winter month. I know I put in extra effort to spend time with family and friends in the month of January to combat the winter blues and the impact of those holiday bills rolling in. After New Year’s, we always make a point of hosting some kind of quirky, community focused party at our house. One year it was a mass Capricorn birthday party for ourselves and all our friends born under the hybrid zodiac sign. Another year it was a potluck sandwich party themed after the comic strip character Dagwood and his insane, five foot tall sandwiches. But February — February sneaks in under my radar every year and throws me for a loop. February is still dark and cold, with teasing glimpses of the spring to come. Not enough to lift me into...

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a little bit of magic

Decades ago, my great-grandmother started a tradition of hosting both Christmas Eve and Christmas at her house. Brave woman. Every year since then my family has gathered together for dinner and laughter, taking a few hours out of the busy holiday season to eat good food and just relax before the parents jump back into last minute wrapping and outlasting the kids to stay up and make some magic happen. In the morning we would get together again, open gifts, eat more good food — priorities! — maybe play some Scrabble. We’d take turns napping in Dad’s easy chair, big and squishy and comfy. The unspoken rules were simple. No drama. No arguing. Gift bows must be stuck to someone’s head. And gift wrap must be balled up and thrown at each other. Five generations have participated in this tradition at the same house my great-grandmother built. Where my grandfather lived. And my father. Where I grew up. And where my daughters have spent vacation days and holidays with their grandparents. Last Christmas was my grandmother’s last year with us. This Christmas we celebrate with her held tight in our hearts. And this year we celebrate Christmas Eve at the house my great-grandmother built, carrying forward her memory and tradition, but we celebrate Christmas at our new house. Building a new tradition from the old. Places can act as...

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Dancing with Dogs

Yesterday I left for work half an hour early so that I’d have time to swing by the feed supply store and pick up 50 pounds of chicken feed. I wasn’t planning on doing this. I had my day all mapped out, as I like to do. When I plan my day out and know what to expect, my anxiety is lower. But I have kids. And kids, love them to the moon and back, are scatterbrained. So an hour before leaving for work, I heard, “Moooooooom! We’re out of chicken food!” “Out out? Or out, like we have enough to feed them later today but need some for tomorrow?” “Out out!” ….Sigh. Monday it was dog food. Saturday I hauled home three boxes of compost from work to split between the chickens and the tortoise. And Friday I thawed a dead rat for the snake. Yes, I have five pounds of dead rat in my chest freezer in the basement. Why do I do this to myself?? This morning I woke up with a head cold and dragged myself downstairs to make coffee and dig up a new box of tissues. It was chilly, I was cranky, and everyone else was still sleeping. But as soon as my feet hit the stairs, I acquired a shadow. Step, jingle, claw click, claw click. Step, jingle, claw click, claw click....

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