• Rain falling in stock image
    Things That Suck

    Who’s Saving Our Basement? (Part 2)

    DC has been getting a LOT of rain. My sister came to visit a week ago, and we had grand plans to go to the pool and the zoo and on all sorts of fun adventures.  Instead, we’ve been stuck inside having marathon dance parties and playing laser tag.  Even for two girls from Oregon, this rain was too much. Wednesday night, I invited over a few friends for some food and a break from the rain-filled monotony of the day.  It was pouring.  The kids ran around playing laser tag and we drank wine, marveling at the intensity of the rainstorm.  I think I was in the middle of…

  • Marjorie making breakfast with Claire before becoming a widow
    Things That Suck

    Why Being a Widowed Single Mom is So Hard

    I realize the title of this post could be an entire book.  There are like 1000 reasons why being a widowed single mom is so hard.  Today, however, I think I may have narrowed it down to one. The day started out like many days have started out in the past 6 months.  I woke up before the kids, came downstairs for some coffee and to prep the amazing amount of things that my kids need for their days.  My kids have learned to help each other, because they get that mom cannot possibly do everything they need.  So Austin went and got Tommy his clothes for the day and…

  • Nana and grandkids in the pool in Texas during family reunion
    Family & Friends


    One day near the end of the school year, I picked Austin up and he insisted that we call his Nana.  “Today at school,” he told me, “we had a cake made out of ice cream for a birthday party.  I want to call Nana and see if they have those kind of cakes in Texas!” I smiled, and felt a bit guilty too.  Had I really never introduced ice cream cake to my 7-year-old? We called Nana, and she picked up on the first ring.  “Hi Nana,” Austin started. “Austin!” Nana shouted.  I could picture her face – smiling and full of life. “Guess what?” Austin asked her.  “We had…

  • Austin Brimley eating Brussels Sprouts in DC
    Family & Friends

    Brussels Sprouts

    A few days ago, I came home from an afternoon at the pool and said “screw it” to a formal dinner.  The kids were starving and I had eggs in the refrigerator, so that’s what everyone was getting.  I also decided that we’d all get in our PJs and then eat dinner while watching Kung Fu Panda. Obviously, there’s a lot of “winging it” going on now that school’s out. In any case, I sent Claire and Tommy up to take baths, and Austin begged to go over to see the next-door neighbor.  I relented.  He’d taken a shower (I think?) at the pool, or at least he told me…

  • Brimley family in house under construction in Washington DC
    Family & Friends

    Our Forever House

    Three weeks after my husband died, I received a hand-written letter in the mail that read, in part, “Hello…I send my condolences to your family in your time of grievance. My wife and I are real estate investors and…we want to buy your property and relieve you of the burden of having to keep up with the house.” It went on from there, discussing the virtues of his business and how it would be a good idea for a new widow to sell the house.  He implied that I’d never be able to handle such a responsibility on my own and included his email and phone number. Horrified, I took…

  • Jason Levine, an NIH oncologist, with his family
    Family & Friends

    Straight to Heaven

    About two hours after Shawn’s colon surgery began, the head surgeon came out to talk with me and my friend Jason about how everything was going. “There were a few complications,” he began. My heart seemed to stop and time slowed down. “After we put in the scope, we encountered pus, indicating an perforated colon,” the surgeon told me, “and so we had to convert to a standard open operation.” I looked at Jason. He looked calm. “Okay,” he said. The surgeon continued to explain what happened, assuring me that even with the changes, everything had gone well. I turned again to Jason, who looked at me and said, “this…