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 […]


Episode 63 Show Notes: #Priorities NY Times Well The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed, Jess Lahey #AmWriting with Jess and KJ The Atlantic Vermont Public Radio Grown and Flown #Priorities Scrivener Bullet Journal #AmReading Razor Girl, Carl Hiassen Peter Mayle Chomp, Carl Hiassen The Decent Proposal: A Novel, Kemper Donovan The Other Alcott, Elise Hooper All of a Kind Family, Sydney Taylor Little Women, Louisa May Alcott Pride […]

It’s common, and easy, to relax tech rules for the summer. But what if you didn’t?

There is plenty to do. It’s just not stuff that will easily sate and sedate you.

The end of the school year might be harder on your kid than you think.

As much as your children may be looking forward to summer, they may also find it hard to see the end of the school year—even if they never admit it or recognize it.

What’s It Like to Eat at Your Kid’s House?

Something—some mention, some sound, some elusive flavor—reminded me of Captain Crunch yesterday. Captain Crunch, those indefinably flavored rectanguloids best known for scraping all the skin off the roof of your mouth as they stubbornly held their crunch even in the face of the deepest bowl of milk. Thus the name, I guess. But in addition to the flavor, Captain Crunch means something else to me. It means breakfast at Stephanie Ellis’ house, the girl who lived across the street from […]

If your kid’s in the car, your phone should never be in your hand.

Your future drivers are watching. Spring is Driver’s Ed season in New England, and my oldest child starts next week. But there’s one thing about driving that I’ve been teaching him for years: It’s not compatible with mobile phones. If you aren’t putting that phone aside while you drive already, start doing it now, in a big, loud, pointed way. “I’m putting my phone in my bag because I’m driving!” you should say. “I’m not answering my phone even on […]

My kid has a “project” due. What’s ok to help with, and what’s not?

Teachers assign projects to our kids for a reason, and it’s not to see what their parents can do.

Before You Limit Your Kids’ Screen Time, Should You Look at Your Own?

New research has parents of kids 8-18 reporting an astonishing 7.5 hours of personal screen time a day. If that’s true, how can we help our kids learn to limit themselves?

#AmWriting’s Tax Tips for Writers Download

Episode 39 of the #AmWriting podcast was all about taxes for writers. Jess stunned me with her organization and then laid out a plan to follow for 2017, and we dished about getting things together and organizing our deductions and whatnot for 2016. To go with it, Jess made a Tax Tips for Writers download, and then I lined it all up so that you guys can get it. Just sign up here, and our Tax Tips for Writers download […]

Win a Book to Change How You Think About “Busy”

I’ve changed the way I think about time thanks to Laura Vanderkam’s work—and now I’m giving away two copies of her book (and a fun copper bracelet). Read why, and enter.

#ReadySetGo2: Setting #WriterResolutions for 2017

For me, one of the biggest barriers to setting goals is stopping doing things long enough to decide what I want to do. On Episode 34 of the #AmWriting podcast, Jessica Lahey and I talked writerly goals: specifically, what makes a good goal, and how to set some in honor of this traditionally goal-setting time of the year. For Episode 35, we’re actually setting those goals—which means getting them down on paper. It also means checking in on last year’s […]