Design by Sawyer Pennington


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Hindsight should always be 20/20, but life does not work that way. Which may explain why I typically do not look back (with the exception of having to come up with ideas for our Memory Lane section) … I focus on looking forward. And, at the risk of sounding arrogant, I am not sure I would have done anything differently in terms of COVID-19, but I probably would have spent less time following political news.


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Remember that, as Black has repeatedly told me over the years, you can eat an elephant, just not all at one time. I have a tendency to get overwhelmed (ok, Black would say that's a huge understatement), in part because I try to put entire projects on my "to do" list, rather than breaking them down into manageable "bites". Then, once the coronavirus came along, I was so focused and emotionally overwhelmed at what I needed to do to keep me and my family safe, as well as be prepared for whatever might happen, that although (in theory) I had more time "at home" I initially let things accumulate. Eventually, I started using that "extra time" to address things on my "to do" list, one step at a time, but I wish I'd have approached things with that mindset from the beginning.

We’re a storytelling society, so it only makes sense that when asked about tattoos, stories are part of our answers. After all, each of us strongly believes that what makes a tattoo perfect isn’t only the creativity of the tattoo and the skill of the artist; it’s the story that has inspired the tattoo.

P.S. – And if Red ever decides to get a tattoo, you can guarantee there will be a story behind it!


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Well, I can tell you that what I think about them today, especially as they’ve become more mainstream (so many celebrities and athletes proudly display them), is very different than how I used to think about them! Growing up, I thought that only “bad people” had tattoos. And I couldn’t quite understand why anyone would want to permanently “decorate” their bodies. Using needles, no less!

So, what changed? When my oldest daughter, Natasha, was fairly young, she talked about getting tattoos. She’s always been a non-conformist (I wonder where she inherited that trait), but I’ve no idea where the tattoo idea came from. And I never thought she’d be willing to endure the pain , especially since she has an extremely low (as in non-existent) tolerance for pain. Yet, she got her first tattoo on the day of her high school graduation instead of walking the stage. And while it was a simple outline of a bat, in honor of her love of bats , she has continued to get more elaborate ones over the years. And my younger daughter, Sawyer, who’s more like a mini-me and more traditional, totally surprised me when she decided to get her first tattoo.


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Red neglected to answer the question as to whether she would ever get inked. Whereas I already have (warning: tattoos can be addictive ). My first tat is identical to Natasha’s bat, and I asked her permission to copy it as a reminder of the special bond between us. My second is the “ perfect tattoos” (yes, plural) as it was Sawyer’s first, and we got them done together. For me, while tattoos can be beautiful works of art on their own, there is something very special about having meaningful tattoos.

However, you must think about whether you will “outgrow” or regret the tat later. Keep in mind that while tats may have become more mainstream, there is still some stigma. (Some of my older and more conservative friends tried to hide their looks of disapproval when they saw mine.) It is a function of the other person’s age and prior exposure to tats, the specific tat and location (I still find some face tattoos scary), and your work environment .

What is it about wearing white after Labor Day? And why is it a question without a definitive answer? And who decided it would be a perfect question to ask … in a Twizzlers commercial?!


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I'm probably the last person to ask a fashion question, full stop. In fact, during the early days of my crisis, when I was looking to save every penny and was canceling all my magazine subscriptions, Black told me I could cancel the fashion ones as it was obvious that I never looked at any of them. But "InStyle" does have some good fashion tips about wearing white after Labor Day.

For me, I'll probably wear my white long sleeve shirts (I'm not a fan of tee shirts) until at least November as here in the Houston area it stays pretty warm well into fall, and white is such a "cool" (temperature, not style) color to wear. There's nothing else white in my wardrobe because the combination of being a redhead with pale skin and being a mom means white isn't a flattering or practical color. But I'm curious what Black, the fashion maven of our family, has to say about wearing white …


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I am not going to get into the psychology of fashion, but I find the concept of "fashion rules" almost an oxymoron as I have always thought of fashion as being fluid and creative, and a reflection of your individuality. Plus, some rules (especially fashion ones) are meant to be broken . Including wearing white after Labor Day. Otherwise, why would the term " winter white " even exist?

However, I find the history of not wearing white after Labor Day fascinating, although possibly elitist. And, although I would never equate my sense of style to that of Coco Chanel, who went against the trends of her time and wore white year-round, I believe white never goes out of season.


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Funny you should ask, as I was recently getting ready for a garage sale of our mom’s things and came across an old metal carrying basket that I think is for milk bottles. Although my memory of our milkman is that he left the milk bottles in a small rectangular metal box outside our front door.

Anyway, my best memory of fresh milk, especially chocolate milk, was going to Dairy Barn with our dad. It was a drive-through; we’d return the old bottles, get our deposit back, and pick up new ones. I have to admit that when my mom started to get milk at our local Waldbaum’s (anyone growing up on Long Island will remember them) in paper cartons, I thought it was a little sad. Plus, I didn’t think the milk tasted as good.

Recently, when I saw some old-fashioned milk bottles from 1836 Farms at my local Kroger, although it was more expensive, I bought one just because it reminded me of my youth. In fact, when I initially told Black I wasn’t sure I wanted to spend that much on milk, she suggested I could reuse the bottle as a vase. And it always makes me smile!


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Since you mentioned your grandmother, which makes me feel old, you may have to ask her to explain what we meant when we teased Red, a redhead in a family of brunettes, of being the “milkman’s daughter”.

Looking back, “milkmen” and dairy delivery services were ahead of their time. They delivered milk as well as other dairy products, and seem to be a precursor to Instacart, Amazon Fresh, and all the food delivery services. Not to mention, it was a way to reuse the glass milk bottles (remember, this was decades before recycling was a “thing”).

Regardless, when we taught at KIPP Houston High School, I asked our students if they had ever heard of a milkman. (Most had not.) And then (of course), I followed up with an assortment of other questions … Can jobs become obsolete? What creates new opportunities? Do you think there may be jobs in the future that no one has ever heard of yet? What can you do to be prepared? So, if nothing else, I hope the milkman makes you stop and think …