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You Are the Parent I Wish I Was.

We’re all doing what we think is important, and we’re all doubting, wondering if another road is smoother or more likely to include a bus stop for success.

Rules for Happier Parents: Children Change. When We Let Them

  Here is a list of some of the labels I was given as a child: Always Late. Picky Eater. Hates All Sports. Makes Excuses. Messy and Disorganized. Doesn’t Play Well with Others. It took time (decades, in some cases), but I’ve outgrown every one of those. (You’re still welcome to use stubborn, impulsive and loud-mouthed, however). I’m a foodie, an athlete, a hockey fan, and a reliable worker who never misses a deadline. But when my parents are around, […]

Rules for Happier Parents: The Road to Jack O’Lantern Glory is Paved with Pumpkin Guts and Tears

Cook a simple meal, do a load of laundry, clean a bathroom, carve a pumpkin. Life skills, man.

The Blessing of an Ordinary Week

Soak up the joy of ordinary days, and you build up a reservoir of peace and contentment that keeps you strong when the storms come.

October Book Recommendations, Part 1

  A memoir from an accomplished novelist is always a gift, but this one stands out. When you tell me it’s about growing up in and marrying within the Orthodox Jewish culture, I’m hooked–but when you tell me it’s some of the best writing I’ve seen about growing up, evolving your beliefs and finding your own way outside of the stories you’ve been told—and have told yourself—then I’m blown away, and I was.         How many real […]

You Do Not Have to Go to a Bad Party

That kid who is yelling at you from the kitchen, ranting and angry? He’s throwing a bad party—and you don’t have to go.

September Book Recommendations, Part 5

  If you’re a fan of practical parenting books, especially the kind with lots of amalgamated-from-my-client-list-with-real-identity-disguised examples of people who are doing it worse than you, I highly recommend this one. The “13 Things” in question really are things that we’ll all be happier if we don’t do (make your child the center of the universe, take shortcuts to avoid discomfort) and will often make you pause and take a hard look at what you really do as a parent […]

Say Good Morning.

For a long time, when I head upstairs to make sure everyone is up in the morning, I’ve been walking into my sons’ room saying, cheerfully, “time to get up!” or “time to face the day!” And for the past week or so, my oldest son has been rolling over and saying “Good morning.” I answered him, of course. “Good morning!” I liked it. It’s so much nicer, I thought, when he says good morning instead of something like, “I […]

September Book Recommendations, Part 4

In honor of the fall cooking season, I’ve got two food-related memoirs this week.   Growing up torn between a sugar-loving German baker and a spice-loving Arab dad, the author was bound to learn to cook. This is the story of how she reconciled those two very flamboyant, and very different, personalities within herself.               Girl cooks in crazy prestigious NYC kitchens and then moves to rural off-the-grid Minnesota? That’s a story I wanted […]

The One Thing You Can Do When the Homework Is Killing You All

We’ve all been there. Your child is frustrated, and insisting the teacher never showed her how to graph the results of the word problem. The 210 page reading assignment had him up half the night; the “measure four rooms in your house” question took the combined efforts of the whole family to complete and taught your kid nothing, and seriously, who does the second grade teacher think is really doing the online research on lemurs? You’re annoyed, you’re confused, everyone […]

September Book Recommendations, Part 3

  I was so thrilled to find this memoir of a young German woman’s experience as an immigrant and newbie farmer in Vermont in the 1940’s. It’s both a classic city slicker in the big country story (love those) and a glorious, contemporaneous depiction of another time, with party lines and pony carts and train travel. I’m treasuring every page.         Gretchen Rubin’s four tendencies framework won’t fully explain you or everyone around you, but once you’re […]

School transition bringing out your child’s more challenging side? Slow down, give in, let things go.

It’s happening again. Every year, just as school starts, we find ourselves in a place I thought we’d left behind. The kids on edge, constantly provoking, teasing and pushing one another’s buttons. One child’s skin so thin she might burst. Tantrums, oddities and tics return. What’s up? You’d think something big was going on and—oh. Yeah. School’s started. A new teacher. A new grade. New expectations and old ones that have never been easy. It’s a challenging time for all […]

September Book Recommendations, Part 2

This week, Mary Laura Philpott was a guest on the #AmWriting podcast. Our topic: #Youandyourbookstore, on writers forming relationships with the bookstores we love. I’ve done this before, but Mary Laura convinced me to go all in, and from now on the links to books in this email will be to Indiebound. Click, and you can get the book ordered from your local—or any—independent bookstore. It’s been a good week for reading. Here’s why:       To Siri with Love is Judith Newman’s […]

Resistance Is Useless

You’re going to read the bedtime story, make the extra orthodontist appointment or pick up the kid who missed the bus. You might as well do it with grace.  Some days (weeks, months) are frustrating. All anyone wants from you is everything—every spare minute, every ounce of patience, and oh, that sandwich you just made for your own lunch looks good too. Everywhere you look, there’s another octopus, all grabbing arms and suckers, holding you in place until they use […]

September Book Recommendations, Part 1

      Guesswork: A Reckoning with Loss I’ve just started this slim memoir in essays, a history of reckoning with grief and loss through exploring a new country on the outside and an old landscape within. It’s lyrical, poem-y, not a one-sitting read.           For many kids, back-to-school means back into the social ocean after a summer spent swimming in quieter ponds. If you’re looking for advice on helping your teen or tween navigate the […]

Take Help

Oh, no, thanks–I’m fine. Got it all under control. Sure, one child broke her arm by falling off the zip line in our yard while we were hosting her grade’s back-to-school party, the day before school started. And we discovered that another needed to switch schools completely three days before. Oh, and there’s no water in the house this morning (plumbing problem), and there wasn’t yesterday, either. And we’re out of sugar. And there’s this emergency orthodontist appointment in fifteen […]

August Book Recommendations, Part Two

I’m looking for stories of families who added more unstructured time to their summer this year. If that’s you, I’d love to hear from you. Reply email to this missive will indeed reach me. It’s been a good week for reading. Here’s why: The Outrun, Amy Liptrot A memoir of addiction, to alcohol be even more to the speed of city life, this is the story of Liptrot’s return to the Orkney Islands and a year spent largely in her […]

Back to School: Friend or Foe?

I wasn’t ready for summer to end, or kids to go back to school, until suddenly I was.

August Book Recommendations, Part One

Hey—want to win a totally random book and help me spread the word about my weekly missives on making this whole parenting thing a joyful part of our lives? I’m conducting a Random Book Mailing. I’ve got a stack of 19 recent releases to give away, including the two novels below. Do something—anything you’d like—to encourage friends to join the list, then let me know you did by Monday, August 7, 2017. (You can also just reply to this email.) I’ll drop everyone’s […]

Want a happier end to summer? Try this: Sometimes, if you see something, don’t say something.

  Last week, we took out annual summer family vacation: a trip to Cape Cod, where we stay in the same place and do the same things, every year, which still manages to always be just different enough. As we often do, we took a fishing trip. We saw whales. We dropped lines and jigged for mackerel to use as bait. We zoomed at top speed to a place where the striped bass might or might not be—and for the most […]