You Know You Need a Great New Read (November, 2016)

By KJ / Monday, November 14, 2016

Here are the books I read and liked, and why, in no particular order, for November.

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We do owe our kids an apology for this election. It’s not the one you think.

By KJ / Thursday, November 10, 2016

Nothing is different about our country than it was Tuesday, or the day before, or even the day before that. All that’s changed is that we know more about each other than we did then.

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Shouldn’t FB Be Showing Me My Crap Memories, Too?

By KJ / Tuesday, November 8, 2016

I know I’ve shared some rotten moments on Facebook since I joined. So why are my “memories” all hazy scenes of family happiness?

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One-Day Writers Retreat, an Incoherent Series of Thoughts Thereupon.

By KJ / Friday, November 4, 2016

I’m in Durham, North Carolina with my husband, who’s here for some meetings. One day doesn’t seem like much, but since my high school carpool fell through my writing days have been a shortened mess–I HAVE a babysitter to pick my kids up from school, but she is but one human and there are two schools, not close to each other, letting out at the same time. It occurs to me as I write this that I could probably find […]

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When the Wind Blows in Better Weather

By KJ / Wednesday, November 2, 2016

When things are tumultuous, I tend to expect them to get worse, not better. But I’ve realized I’m often wrong.

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What If You Just Did One Thing at A Time? Really Just One Thing.

By KJ / Friday, October 28, 2016

I can really only do one thing at a time. You could call that Unitasking, or Monotasking, or my favorite—being human, since no one can really do more than one thing at a time—but whatever you call it, it’s how I work best.

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How To Get Out of the Rabbit Hole

By KJ / Thursday, October 27, 2016

I looked up at the clock and realized: the rabbit hole had nabbed me again.

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Let the Darkness In

By KJ / Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The weather has been so glorious. I’ve been on an epic high of good cheer and outdoor adventure. I kind of need it to stop.

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When Homework Engulfs the Whole House

By KJ / Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Every night, when she opens her math homework, the drama begins. “I need help. I can’t do this.” She can—but it’s hard, and why not make everyone else suffer with you?

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The Richest Months

By KJ / Monday, October 24, 2016

I love spring and I love summer—and I ADORE Halloween—but the coming season is the real meat of the year.

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My Name Is KJ, and I Meditate.

By KJ / Friday, October 21, 2016

I used to meditate sneakily, because one of the reasons I meditate is that my mind is filled with all kinds of negative commentary on stuff like … meditating. But I’ve had to come out of the closet.

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Here’s What’s Wrong with the Anti-Helicopter Parent’s Backyard (Hint: He’s Still Hovering)

By KJ / Thursday, October 20, 2016

The parent who created the Playborhood may not be helicoptering, but he’s hovering just the same. Only instead of saying “be careful,” he’s saying “jump.”

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Right Here, Right Now: Are You Where You Want to Be, Doing What You Want to Do?

By KJ / Wednesday, October 12, 2016

So, are you? Feel free to skip right down and just tell me your answer in the comments, but here’s why I’m asking.

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Win 10 Fall Books from My September List!

By KJ / Thursday, October 6, 2016

Win all the books from my September books post, and a few more!

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Sane Scheduling Part Three: Don’t Do This.

By KJ / Monday, October 3, 2016

I’ve been working on The Sane Family’s Guide to Scheduling, and I had a little something left over that just didn’t fit anywhere. So, herewith, a few random things that I try to keep in mind when adding things to my schedule:   1. Never put anything on Monday, especially Monday morning. First off, Mondays are hard enough. Second, me, I forget things on Mondays. I want to be someone who looks at her calendar on Sunday and plans the […]

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Am I Introverted, or Just Rude?

By KJ / Monday, October 3, 2016

I’m shy, yes. But am I also rude? In a contest between my manners and my preferences, am I allowing my preferences to win?

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Choose Your Own Verb: Are You Where You Need, Want or Are Meant to Be?

By KJ / Thursday, September 29, 2016

Do you do what you need to, what you choose to, or what you’re meant to—and does the difference matter?

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My Actual Writing Morning, 10 AM-1PM, Annotated.

By KJ / Thursday, September 22, 2016

Let’s just say not everything that happened this morning was strictly work. Probably especially not the Cheez-Its.

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You Know You Need Something New to Read

By KJ / Saturday, September 17, 2016

2 novels. 2 memoirs. 4 nonfiction. If you’re looking for a good read, look no further.

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The Right Way to Bribe Your Kids to Read

By KJ / Friday, September 16, 2016

My children need to read this summer. They’re in the middle of a long vacation from school, and I want them to enjoy it — but I also want them to be able to pick up their education where they left off when school starts again in the fall.

Kids who read over the summer lose fewer skills than kids who don’t. This is especially important for children from low-income families and those with language problems, like my younger daughter. When reading is difficult, so is almost everything else. As new readers move from decoding text to fluency, every subject from math to history becomes more accessible, but practice is the only way to get there.

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Use It Up, Wear It Out: why we should quit saving stuff for later

By KJ / Thursday, September 15, 2016

So I bought these charcoal exfoliating wipes at Sephora. They’re really quite fantastic. One side cleans, and the other is all nubbly and exfoliating (thus the name). I’m delighted with them. I’m trying to fade a brown spot on the side of my face, and I think they will speed the process along. There is only one problem. I used one yesterday. And I used one tonight. And there are only 25 in the package. So there are only 23 […]

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Six Signs Your Parent Is Over-scheduled

By KJ / Monday, September 12, 2016

Look out, kids. Over-schedule your parents, and you might just find yesterday’s lunch trash in today’s lunch.

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Yeah, or I Could Wait Until They Come Home from School and Make Things Worse

By KJ / Friday, September 9, 2016

I know it’s hard for kids to transition from school. I know coming home to your lame family after a great trip with your friends is tough.  I swear I went into the pick up line excited to get everyone back for a beautiful afternoon. I was thinking swimming,  maybe ice cream I’m not entirely sure I can tell you exactly how it ended up with me declaring that maybe, if they were lucky, something–car accident, terrorist attack–would get their […]

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I Woke Up Grumpy, So I Dragged Everyone Else Down, Too.

By KJ / Friday, September 9, 2016

I know better, but I did it anyway.

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Hey, School, Can’t We Just Start Slow?

By KJ / Monday, August 29, 2016

For some kids, activities that start to early in a new school year are activities they’ll never be ready to join.

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The Mom Who Left the Planet

By KJ / Thursday, April 28, 2016

I’m listening to Samantha Ettus interview 5 women about work life balance, and Cady Coleman, astronaut, just said that one of her friends told her “look, this is who his mother is.”  They’re all saying they don’t go out at night, that mornings are chaos, that they don’t hide the kids. But that’s just the best line–“this is who their mom is.”  Other great lines–“I’ve made a life that works for me.” “You can’t listen to what other people think […]

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One Big Happy Conference

By KJ / Thursday, April 28, 2016

K Howdy from Mom 2.0. I’m listening to Julie Zhuo at Facebook talk to three women who started Facebook groups that grew like crazy (Jessie Lorenz, Tahemeem Shaik, Thorunn Magnisdottir), after walking through halls of women and media companies and brands. Overheard: “the people who really love what I’m doing have followed me there” “what are your goals for the conference?” “If we build it that way it will really attract a broad audience” and a hundred other comments from […]

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Book Give-away: “Catastrophic Happiness” and “Girls and Sex”

By KJ / Sunday, April 3, 2016

I’ve got a copy of “Catastrophic Happiness” by Catherine Newman and one of “Girls and Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape” to share. All you have to do is either sign up for my weekly email (if you haven’t already) or share this past week’s email (which is likely how you got here in the first place). Then tell me you did, and which book you’d like in the comments to this post, and we’ll use a random number generator […]

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Why We Should Schedule an Empty Schedule

By KJ / Friday, March 25, 2016

Just because the day looks empty certainly doesn’t mean it will be.

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Today’s Mantra: I Got This.

By KJ / Thursday, March 24, 2016

Rushed morning? Husband headed out of town? One child who overslept, missed barn chores and got fines? Another who never wants to go to school, and a third poking the seats of the first two in the car? Yeah, I got all that. But somehow, this morning, I let it wash over me. Made the iPad play through the car stereo (my phone won’t do that any more, thanks IOS update), sang along with the happier kids to the three […]

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Do This Now: Favorite Your Best Photos From Last Month

By KJ / Saturday, March 5, 2016

You know how, come December, you really want to make, say, a calendar for next year? This will help.

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Just a Fun Winter Picture

By KJ / Friday, March 4, 2016

Once, there was snow.

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Illustrating Motherlode

By KJ / Monday, July 7, 2014

An 8-year-old on an aimless Monday morning of summer break is a funny thing. Deprived of his easy weekend go-tos (wii, minecraft, TV) and not yet quite able to come up with alternatives (by weds we will be good, next Monday he’ll have forgotten again). We went for illustrating the day’s Motherlode post, with the result that you get not one, but two today. I told him the player was faking the foul. “No!” He said. “He’s really hurt.” There’s […]

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8 Things We Have Learned about Having a Pool

By KJ / Sunday, July 6, 2014

1. It’s an excellent way to acquire beach towels. 2. Ditto assorted children’s clothing and swimwear. 3. Bleach and Borax are cheaper than pool chemicals. 4. Apply before pool party, not after. 5. I don’t know where your goggles are. I don’t know where anyone’s goggles are. 6. Mmmm, pool water beats toilet water any day (that’s from our dogs). 7. Bacardi piña coladas are the way to go. 8. Am never leaving my house again. At least not this […]

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New office!

By KJ / Sunday, July 6, 2014

This is my new office. This is the view from my new office. Do note the boxes in the foreground, and the complete absence of a desktop computer, and the boxes in the background. Deal is, new desktop–when there is a top of the desk to be seen. Meanwhile, it’s a fresh office start for me! I’m unpacking.

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Favor Effectiveness over Efficiency

By KJ / Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Laura Vanderkam pointed me towards an article today that came at exactly the right time: Chasing Efficiency? You’re Wasting Your Time A few choice quotes: Nobody other than perhaps you really cares how efficient you are, but everyone cares how effective you are. Sometimes the least efficient thing can lead to the most productive outcome. A great example of this would be carving out time in your already too busy schedule to mentor someone in your organization. Clearly this endeavor […]

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Behind the Scenes at Motherlode: Sam’s Sugared Cranberries

By KJ / Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I refer to this recipe in a post on Wednesday, November 21, 2012–and I’m packing them up for the trip to Fairfax County/DC right now. Sam’s Sugared Cranberries 1 lb fresh cranberries, picked over 2 cups sugar 2 cups superfine sugar, for rolling Make simple syrup: combine 2 cups sugar with 2 cups boiling water and stir until sugar is dissolved. Let cool. (Let COOL. LET COOL. If you pour it over the cranberries now, they will burst.) Divide cranberries […]

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Clutter-free (almost) and Happier: Check

By KJ / Sunday, September 30, 2012

I didn’t want to have the toothpaste- crusted, sloppy house that i remembered visiting with dismay growing up. I wanted my mother’s pleasant, clutter- and toothpaste-stain free sanctuary.

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Full Cappelletti (or Ravioli) Recipe from Motherlode

By KJ / Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Full video and recipe for making my family’s not-so-secret cappelletti and ravioli.

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Go Shelf By Shelf and Snack By Snack: “Happier at Home” Week 2, in the Pantry

By KJ / Sunday, September 16, 2012

I cleaned my pantry. Less is more, and should the zombie apocalypse arrive, all that spaghettini will surely not save us. Bourbon, maybe, but that’s another cabinet.

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“Happier at Home:” Gretchen’s Project, KJ’s Clutter

By KJ / Sunday, September 9, 2012

Getting “happier” about my possessions means more than just clearing clutter—but I’m going to have to clear the clutter first.

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Behind the Scenes: Operation Vacation Recovery Begins

By KJ / Saturday, July 28, 2012

Where in the world is KJ? Cape Cod. Watchin’ whales, kickin’ back. Swimming pools, sand castles, the “Chatham Freeze.” It’s been a nearly completely “off” week: comments were kindly taken over by the NYT team, posts were nearly all from guests, no “quandary” last week, and thus no response. Oh, I did a few things. Someone pointed me towards a fantastic blog about twins, and I immediately snagged the writer for a contribution–I can’t wait. She and I will be […]

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Actual Mail

By KJ / Sunday, June 24, 2012

Actual Mail Originally uploaded by kjda I am so happy, and feeling yanked back to childhood, because someone-as in Ayun Halliday– sent me a big fat fabulous envelope in the mail!!!

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Farewell, Mystery Twitter Dude (Plus, How to Have a Good Birthday Party)

By KJ / Sunday, June 10, 2012

My dad just alerted me to the fact that my Twitter widget was broadcasting someone else–I changed my handle, but not the widget code, a few weeks ago and apparently this is the inevitable result: whoops! He looked like he had a very interesting life and an entirely different twitter audience than me… Today was Lily’s actual birthday, and I’m proud to say that after last year’s, which could have been used as the MTV video for “It’s My Birthday […]

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Rory apparently got someone else’s fortune

By KJ / Friday, June 1, 2012

Rory apparently got someone else’s fortune Originally uploaded by kjda

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The Perils of Hangman With 7-Year-Olds

By KJ / Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Perils of Hangman With 7-Year-Olds Originally uploaded by kjda

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By KJ / Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Boxes Originally uploaded by kjda The worrisome thing is that all I REMEMBER ordering from the Container Store are hangers.

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10 Things Guaranteed to Send You Into a Whirling Death Spiral of Depression

By KJ / Thursday, April 5, 2012

The old guys who sit in the bookstore once a week in the morning are much older than when I used to sit here and work. And some of them are gone. Filling Easter baskets for four children. Buying three small, cheap Easter toys is fun and cute. Buying 12 is a depressing commentary on our disposable society. Any report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. They do God’s work. Never been sure why God’s work is invariably such a […]

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All the Words Rory Can Spell

By KJ / Saturday, March 31, 2012

All the Words Rory Can Spell Originally uploaded by kjda

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Today, Three Years Ago, We Told the Other Kids About Rory.

By KJ / Sunday, March 25, 2012

How do I know? Because three years ago, to the week, if not the day, it was Sam’s “Wild Mites Jamboree” which is a hockey thing, and right before we went to the rink, we lined them up on our bed and produced pictures. They were beyond thrilled. We were happy. Our biggest problem was that we hadn’t printed enough pictures, because all three of them wanted to carry all the pictures around (and they did, too, until the day […]

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