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I’m not sure if I want to go back to college but, after staying at the Graduate Ann Arbor, I definitely want to stay in these college town hotels which I wrote about for USA Today 10Best!

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life reimagined: i’m now organized!

Life Reimagined article

Thanks to Life Reimagined, who sponsored this post and provided incredible support during my project, I have actually reached my organization goal.

I know — I’m as shocked as you!

You may remember that I was invited to try out Life Reimagined last month, and I decided that was a good time to finally tackle the crap all over my house my organizational issues. That meant I was actually going to clean out the kids’ rooms — they’re both happily ensconced in apartments on the other side of the country — and I was  going to do something about the junk room, below, that was always supposed to be my office. [Read more…]

life reimagined: my organization project

Life Reimagined Too Busy

Thank goodness for Life Reimagined, who not only sponsored this post but has already made a difference in my life.

You see, since Alex and Sara left for college years ago, I’ve come to realize that the idea of an “empty nest” is not really accurate.

Yes, the kids are out of the house — but most of their stuff is still there.

Or, rather, here.

At a time in our life when we are really trying to downsize, we are drowning in things. [Read more…]

letting go when your kids leave for college

Alex and Sara on kitchen counter

Our nest has been empty for half a dozen years — yes, that picture, above, was taken a long time ago — but every time September approaches, I get nostalgic about back to school time. I wish I was still making trips to the store with my kids for notebooks and pens and backpacks, and sharing their anticipation about their new teachers and which of their friends would be in their classes.

Those Septembers come and go shockingly fast, though, and suddenly, instead of dropping your little boy off at preschool, you’re leaving a young man who’s taller than you in a strange room three thousand miles away. Instead of kissing your little girl goodbye for the day, you’re kissing her goodbye for who knows how long.

I think there are few moments in a parent’s life as emotional as sending a child off to college.

It’s such a turning point — for both of you. And it is so painful to let go.

Here a few tips for making the transition a little easier: [Read more…]

back to school reimagined

school supplies

Today is the first day of August, which means if you turn on the TV or open a newpaper, you’re likely to see ads and commercials for back to school sales.

It’s my favorite time of year. [Read more…]

my baby just graduated college. what do i do now?


I never thought of myself as someone who defined herself by her children. Whose life was so closely intertwined with theirs that I would feel lost once they left home.

But apparently I am. [Read more…]

the mother of all storms

The biggest storm in history is hitting the East Coast, my children are in the middle of it and I’m 3000 miles away from them. This bothers me way more than it bothers them.

Hurricane Sandy

[Read more…]

Fly Away, Little Bird

Mama bird and baby birdsI love this song.

I don’t really think it has anything to do with emptying the nest but since both of my kids are heading back to college this week, and since I’m already sad happy sad happy, it makes me weepy every time I hear it — which is often since I have it on repeat.

I know I’m not the only one feeling this way, so I thought I’d share. Just listen to these lyrics:

“Fly away little bird

Find the song in you that no one’s heard

Strengthen your wings as you sing your solo flight

Through this short life”

Waaaaaahhhhh …

Wishing all your little birds safe flights, soft landings and the confidence to soar.

(To read about my empty nest, click here)

lois and michael on becoming empty nesters

Lois says:

When Sara was two years old, she would leave her shoes by the front door before she went to bed and, in the morning, she’d point to them and say, “Go.”

Whether we were going to the park, to the grocery store or just to walk the dog, Sara was ready. There was a big world out there, and she wanted – needed — to explore it.  When she went off to her first sleepover at a friend’s apartment at the age of three, our doorman warned us she’d be calling us to pick her up in the middle of the night but we smiled, knowing that wasn’t going to happen. Instead, she asked if she could stay another night.

Michael has always called Sara “a force of nature.” Since coming into the world five weeks early with lungs so loud, the medical team left the delivery room, laughing, Sara has made her presence known. She wakes up singing, she is full of drama and she has her own, inimitable style. She is independent, outgoing and determined to make a difference.

So, by the time her senior year of high school rolled around, she couldn’t wait to go to college, and we knew she was more than ready. I, on the other hand – um, not so much. How can you be ready for someone you’ve lived with for 18 years – someone who has brought you so much joy, enriched your life in so many ways and kept life interesting (to say the least!) – to no longer be there, providing the soundtrack to your days?

When we dropped our son, Alex, off at college two years ago, I sobbed like the baby I vividly remembered him being. When we left Sara last month, I cried again but it was different. I had come to an important realization. Although I was sad that I would no longer get to hang out on the couch with her at night or give her a hug just because, this wasn’t about me. This was about her, and I knew that she was in the right place and that she would thrive. That was something to be happy – not sad – about, right? Isn’t that what we had been working up to all these years?

With both kids now in college, our nest is officially empty. It’s a weird feeling because I don’t feel old enough for that (although, trust me, I am!). I’ve gotten so much advice about keeping busy, but here’s what people get wrong about that: Busy is so not the point – I AM busy. Too busy. And that still doesn’t make me miss my kids less. I miss them for their individual personalities, for who they are as people. I really like spending time with them, and I just miss seeing them on a daily basis.

I have genuinely enjoyed every stage of my kids’ lives and can honestly say I’m enjoying this one, too. I talk to both of them almost every day, and love hearing about Sara’s Javanese gamelan class and the coffee drinks Alex has whipped up at Midnight MUG. We’re closer than ever even though we’re 3000 miles apart.

Sara’s shoes may now sit in front of a door across the country in a place where — be still my heart — she recently announced, she is “happy to the core of my being,” but her real journey has just begun. And, although we’re no longer holding her hand as she takes every step, we’ll always be behind her — wherever she may go.

Michael says:

“So that’s what her carpet looks like,” I think, standing in Sara’s bedroom, everything in its place, Sara now in her new place. She would hate that thought. She’d give me a “Daad!” at the judging, burn at the sight of me standing in her room, surveying, invading.

Lois and I arrived home from Boston just minutes ago — back from helping Sara move into her dorm, eight hours from hugging goodbye — and opened the door to our life now. Two kids, both on the East Coast.

I find myself here. In Sara’s still room, looking for her, knowing she’s gone but not really knowing. Seeing her clock, adding three hours to the time it is here, imagining what she would be doing at 11 pm. Mind-controlling has given way to mind-patrolling. It feels right having both kids on the same time zone. “They can talk more easily,” I think, sitting at her desk. Grade school desk, finger-painted desk.

“We done good, honey,” Lois reassured me — and likely herself — as we loaded the empty luggage into the car at the San Diego airport. There was plenty of room left over. We drove home holding hands.

“They’re people of character, good people.” I graded us all. Kids move away, habits stick around.

Tough as it is, letting go in the right way is our duty as parents. There have been many releasings. The bad ones are a tossing, ‘Ok then, do it your own way, whatever, you’ll see.”

The good ones have an expanding, thin cord, invisible to all except you and them, so the kids know they can be close at a tug.

This one is different from all others. Both sides have the option to tug.

Our goodbye was not overly emotional, externally speaking. Tears but not torrents. “Think of it like camp,” Sara reassured Lois and me and surely herself. And then she turned away. Slowly, I moved the car around behind her dorm, waiting, knowing, looking up at Sara’s window on the second floor, waiting. There she was.

We waved, tugging slightly, testing the line.

Sara’s fierce face playing softball still framed on the wall by her window. Sara’s puffy white clouds still floating over her pillow. Sara’s poems still taped over her desk. But it’s all different now, standing in her room.

I like how neat it is.

“Daaaaaad!” I hear from 3000 miles away.

“I love you, Sara,” I say from 3000 miles away.