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.


Home Economics in School: Yes or No?

When I started working at Real Simple, a former colleague said “Real Simple is for people whose mothers didn’t teach them how to do all that stuff.” I knew exactly what she meant by that stuff: cooking; cleaning; ironing; doing laundry; planting perennials; balancing a checkbook; painting a wall; painting a fingernail; sewing on a button.  All of those small-but-important things […]

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Laurie David Is Going to Save My Life

This week I had the good fortune to sit down with Laurie David, who has recently published the book that is going to save my life. Before Laurie came into the office, she did a bit of homework and read the essay that I published in the September issue of Real Simple, as well as on realsimple.com. Laurie is my […]

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How Much Computer/Video Game/Wii/Whatever Time Do You Allow Your Kids?

Well, now we’re in the thick of summer, which means that all over America, parents are breathing down their kids’ necks about how much time they spend playing Xbox 360. Or is that just at my house? We have a general rule of thumb, which is that the kids get 1 hour of screen time on school days and 1.5 […]

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Searching for a Lost Pet: The 14-Step Approach

1. Notice top of hamster’s cage is ajar; wonder if your house is inhabited by fairies as no one admits to knocking into cage. 2. Look under every surface on entire first floor. Wonder: Can hamsters climb stairs? Ponder. 3. Console children. 4. Nag children, who on second thought don’t seem that upset and in fact are not searching as strenuously as you […]

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5 Telltale Signs You Have the Right Perspective on Current Events, Circa Summer 2011

1. You are reading and watching nearly everything you can about the whole Murdoch thing, but mostly because you want to get another look at Rebekah Brook’s hair. Why don’t more CEOs have hair like that? Does she ever try to blow it straight? Is that her real color? Isn’t it really hot on her neck in the middle of […]

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Why Life Is Better When Viewed From the Backseat

Like many American families, we spend a fair amount of time in the car in the summer. Middle goes to sleepaway camp, which involves road trips for drop-off, visiting day, and pickup.  Our August vacation begins and ends with a gigantic trek to and from New Hampshire, where we arrive just in the nick of time before we all kill each […]

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Five Reasons to Love Simply Stated Even More Than You Do Already

Those of you who make Real Simple’s blogs a regular destination might have noticed a few changes over the last couple of weeks. We launched our blog platform in 2007 with just one blog (you’re looking at it), and now I’m proud to say we have 20 fabulous voices to make you laugh, smile, talk back, breathe a sigh of […]

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Why You—Yes, You—Should Be Writing a Blog for RealSimple.com

When I was in second grade, I received a report card that my mother will apparently never forget. It wasn’t the grades that were memorable; it was the teacher’s comments. “Has trouble waiting her turn,” “calls out the answer,” “interrupts others”—you get the picture. It was, in short, all about me, me, me. I blame genetics: My father calls out the answer, and so on. So do two of my sons. There is a well-intentioned but decidedly obnoxious show-offy streak that runs through my whole family.



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Legs, Cheekbones, Sense of Humor: Which Is the Last to Go?

Yesterday afternoon I was walking down the street when I saw a beautiful woman of a certain age. Maybe she was in her late 70s, maybe mid-80s, who knows. All I know is that she had the most amazing cheekbones. Imagine Sophia Loren, but older and with gray hair and definitely not a movie star. After the woman walked past […]

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What Are the Little Things That Annoy You?

This week the New York Times ran a story about small annoyances. Specifically, the article was about some researchers who were trying to figure out why certain things annoy some people but don’t annoy others. For example: The writer of the story gets very annoyed when someone behind her kicks her seat. That doesn’t bother me so much. The writer […]

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