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.


Kindness Online Starts With You (and We’re Here to Help)

Have you ever had someone write something horrible online that was to you, for you, or about you? You know, the sort of thing that most people (either out of a sense of politeness or sheer cowardice) would not say to your face, but have no problem saying online, for all the world to see? Yes, we’ve all read about […]

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What’s Better: To Start the Year With a Bang or a Whimper?

In other words, do you embrace your postholiday, back-to-work funk and stay in your pajamas for as long as possible, eating leftover cheese fondue and wondering how early in the day you can start drinking the remaining champagne? Or do you put on your bathing suit and try something new and stupid? In public! This January 1, I chose the […]

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Thoughts from the Magazine: January 2012

Imagine a stop sign. That’s what my mother always used to advise. When one of her daughters was struggling with an issue and heading down the path of frustration and hopelessness, she would say, “Imagine a stop sign.” It sounds so simple, it’s almost silly. But it can actually work. I come from a long, productive line of Super Worriers. […]

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A Beautiful New Holiday Tradition?

There is a museum fairly close to my house—the Bartow-Pell Museum—that always does fun kid stuff for Christmas. Last year our youngest and I went to see a puppet show; this year there was a storyteller dressed in period costume and (even better because there were gumdrops involved) make-your-own gingerbread men. But I had another reason to visit: Real Simple […]

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Do I Have to Refrigerate My Peanut Butter?

From the Pantry Head-Scratchers Department: For much of my life, my mother made me suffer through all-natural peanut butter. On apples, on celery, on toast, on sandwiches, you name it. It was “healthier,” “better for you,” “had no preservatives.” Of course, according to younger me, it was also “a giant pain,” “impossible to stir,” “too hard to spread half the […]

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The Turkey: To Brine or Not to Brine?

Before we get started, I have to confess that I bought a turkey that is labeled “extra lean.” Was that a mistake? This year my husband’s family is coming for Thanksgiving and I am making an entire menu from Real Simple’s November issue. Even the Brussels sprouts, which my husband really hates. (In a spectacular moment of loving-wife behavior, I […]

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The Hardware Store: A Love Story

Over the weekend my youngest and I went to the little hardware store in my town, because I needed lightbulbs. There are many, many other (and cheaper) places where we could buy lightbulbs, but they seem to be staffed by people who don’t really care about selling me a lightbulb. Or maybe even know what a lightbulb is. However, my […]

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Would You Rather Interact With a Human or a Machine?

This morning on the way to work I had to stop at the bank to deposit a check. I do not—ever—deposit checks by ATM, mostly because I don’t want to learn how to do it. (I know, I know: A trained monkey could probably learn how to deposit a check in the ATM in all of 7 minutes. But I […]

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Are These Shoes Genius or a Complete Horror Show?

One of the things that is both most amazing and most maddening about Middle is that when he fixates on something, he never lets go. He is like a pit bull, or at least what I think pit bulls are supposed to be like, since people describe this sort of I’m-not-letting-go-till-I-get-my-way as acting “like a pit bull.” (Which makes me […]

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Heaven Help My Son’s Nursery School Teacher

Or: What do you do when your 4-year-old has much older brothers? Last night Middle was telling me about the short story he read in English class yesterday, and I asked if I could read it. It was “Charles,” by Shirley Jackson. The only Shirley Jackson story I ever remember reading was—of course—“The Lottery,” and I was surprised by how […]

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