Adventures in Chaos

A peek into the life of busy working mom Kristin van Ogtrop, managing editor of Real Simple and author of Just Let Me Lie Down. Follow her on Twitter @kvanogtrop.


Twas 30 Days Before Christmas

Sometimes, truly, the best things do come from our readers. Check out this little bundle of joy I received from reader Gwen Guillotte. Gwen, thank you! And we all feel your pleasure… and pain. Twas 30 days before Christmas And over at my house I was hunched over the computer Clicking away on my mouse. Photo cards on order, Cyber Monday went well […]

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Self-Inflicted To-Do Listosis

[Note: A version of this article first appeared in the December 2013 issue of Real Simple.] You would think that I’d know this about myself by now, but it recently hit me that I have self-destructive tendencies. Does this ever happen to you? You find an ambitious home-improvement job and think, I can do that! Then a friend asks you […]

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On Paying Attention

[Note: A version of this article first appeared in the November 2013 issue of Real Simple.] The other night I saw the documentary Deceptive Practice, about the life and work of Ricky Jay. In one scene, the magician describes spending a hot California afternoon on a bench with one of his mentors observing men who were about to enter a […]

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Is Arguing With My Son About Screen Time Decreasing My Life Span?

I realized with despair over the weekend that this is how I now seem to spend my time: 30 percent: Working 20 percent: Sleeping 10 percent: Moving clutter from one room of the house to another 40 percent: Arguing with my teenage son about screen time You could make the case that working and sleeping are absolutely necessary, if I […]

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The Mysterious Round Object That Appeared in My Yard

Yesterday my youngest son, who is 6, was having a double playdate with two of his dear friends. (A.K.A. practically the best day of life.) I was trying to be a Very Good Mom and was in the backyard with the boys, building a lean-to. Our backyard has this small wooded section that was once, if not an ancient Indian […]

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Halloween Scares Me

[Note: A version of this article first appeared in the October 2013 issue of Real Simple.] Halloween scares me. It’s not the teenagers roaming local streets wearing Scream masks, although that’s pretty creepy. It’s not the fact that complete strangers are ringing my doorbell from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., although that’s pretty unnerving. It’s not even the presence of […]

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A Son Has Gone to College, Leaving His Adoring Mother Behind…Wait, Did I Have Three Kids?

In March of this year, I had to get a root canal. I’d never had a root canal before and, in preparation, I interviewed every acquaintance I could get my hands on to figure out how awful it was going to be. I came to the following conclusion, expressed by many: “It’s not that bad.” Right. It wasn’t that bad—it […]

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Anything is Possible With…

Yesterday I was walking to a meeting and wondering—as I often do at 3:00 p.m.—how I was going to get through it. Not that I don’t completely love my job every waking minute of the day. But there is that midafternoon exhaustion that always seems to hit me like a wave. Weirdly, chanting “IlovemyjobIlovemyjob” does not make it go away. […]

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Are You My Mentor?

That is the title of a story in our September 2013 issue, and one of my all-time favorite Real Simple headlines. Yes, it’s true that Are You My Mother? is one of my all-time favorite children’s books, one that I forced on my children, even though they never really sparked to it and preferred awful books that I would try […]

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A Son Leaves for College, and Mom’s Life Miraculously Goes On

My oldest child, my firstborn son, went to college on Saturday. I say “went,” although my husband and I (and my two other sons, and my father-in-law-with-the-mini-fridge) dropped him off. I say “dropped him off,” although it was actually a slow separation, like a boat going down a ramp into the water and then gradually disappearing into the distance. And […]

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