Category: whatever works

The View from the Top

In Greek Mythology, the gods punish Sisyphus by making him roll a gigantic boulder up a mountain, and then just as Sisyphus reaches the top, the boulder rolls back down. This happens to Sisyphus every day—for all eternity.

Stinks to be you, Sisyphus.

And yet how many days have I just finished three loads of laundry—and before I can even put all the fresh clothes away there are already dirty ones back in the hamper? And I only have one baby—with tiny, little clothes. What about when we more kids? And more clothes? And more dishes, and more dirt on the floor, and more bills, and more mountains, always more mountains?

Scientists have, in simple terms, recognized something called the “peak-end rule” of memory. That is, when recalling an event, no matter how long it went on or how good or bad it was, we remember it based on 1) how we felt

Fruitful Eggs With Cheese

I was training for my military PT test but gaining weight and sweating buckets. My pants stopped fitting. Suddenly: pregnancy.

I went from drinking a bottle of Middle Sister with Ichiban sushi every night to being with child.

The effects came at me with a vengeance. I was becoming sub-human. I was starving, I was full. I was generally angry that this mutant thing taking shape inside of me was absorbing everything—my food, my emotions, my energy, any ability I had to not be burning hot.

I remember running to Subway and scarfing down a turkey and cheese flatbread in my car. I couldn’t make it into the waiting room of my appointment. When I did get inside, however, I felt like I hadn’t eaten in hours.

And then the morning sickness commenced. My husband and I were sitting on the couch one morning eating pancakes that tasted totally normal the night before. I

Forgiveness for the Non-Sporting Child

ball sport child

I don’t care for sports. I never have. During childhood, I spent my time roller skating and riding bikes with kids from the neighborhood. I was active, but it wasn’t the competitive, organized kind of active.

One summer my mother signed me up for soccer. I spent the practices—the TWO that I actually showed up for prior to dropping out—watching the other kids have fun. I participated slowly and grudgingly, wiping sweat from my brow and constantly checking my watch. I jogged along with lethargy, hoping I’d never actually contact the ball.

I vowed my own children would be more active. My husband and I moved to a semi-rural area when our son was young and our daughter was an infant. We were sure the piney woods and coastal landscapes of the area would inspire all sorts of outdoor activity. We were sure our kids would want to hike,

The Chips Fight


Since we conceived our crying one year old, I’ve been very controlled about what I eat. I’m not a big meat eater but I force-fed myself protein the entire 41 weeks. Now, not one chip touches my lips due to my husband’s apparent need for them (he wipes out the pantry).

Today, I had broccoli and a

Momma’s Still Got It

We had family members visiting but one afternoon I was tired and in need of a shower, so I stayed behind while the rest of the crew went on their way.
I took a shower and decided to lounge on the couch in the living room buck-naked. The shades were drawn. No one was expected to show up.

The Forgetting

My husband recently came up with a piece of parenting wisdom that I am trying to live by. “Most of what we do is going to be wrong,” he said, “so let’s try to do as little as possible.”

It was brilliant. It was also shorter and simpler than the advice from all those parenting books I was reading.

He came up with this aphorism while I was engaged in a power struggle with my oldest son, Ari. I am often engaged in a power struggle with Ari. To say that Ari is stubborn is putting it mildly. He came out of the womb with his own agenda and there hasn’t been a moment when his persistence and determination (read: stubbornness) is not fiercely asserted.

This one was over piano practice. Doing the practice, practicing long enough, practicing with concentration, practicing without complaining. Nothing worked—not asking nicely, not threatening, not keeping him from

What I Won’t Get Done Today

I never realized how difficult it could be to accomplish a simple task… until I had three kids. Every day the to-do list in my head gets swallowed up in the constant demands and responsibilities of caring for three little humans. And when I do finally manage to get something done, it seems to be almost instantly undone.

I tidy up one room, only to find a tsunami of Legos has been unleashed in the next. I finally finish the morning dishes and turn around to discover my 4-year-old playing chef with everything he can get a hold of in the pantry.

Kids also seem to have a radar for when you sit down to a computer to work, pay bills, etc. They can be perfectly entertained, but the moment you sneak away, prepare for all hell to break lose. And what about time for myself? That would consist of the brief

The Working Parent: Finding “Get To” Instead of “Have To”


I’m a parent. But this isn’t work. This is my family. This is what I’m working for.

Lost the Battle, Not the War!

There I am. Standing in the budget section of the grocery store. Arms piled high in frozen dinners I’ll be lucky enough to enjoy, let alone cook, the remainder of the week. I’ve missed at least two shifts in two days of my two part time jobs, and these are the groceries this week. The

The Real Developmental Milestones of a Toddler

Wondering if your child is keeping up with her peers? This simple assessment test will help you determine if your toddler is hitting all the appropriate developmental milestones, including wrecking mayhem.

Gross Motor Skills

Does your child:
a. Pull self up to stand
b. Pull self up to stand using sibling’s hair

Does your child:
a. Squat to pick up a toy
b. Squat to pick up dog poop

Does your child:
a. Walk independently
b. Walk independently into the middle of the street

Does your child:
a. Climb onto and down from couch or chair unsupported
b. Climb onto and down from a bookcase unsupported

Fine Motor Skills

Does your child:
a. Pick up a Cheerio with thumb/index finger
b. Pick up a Cheerio with thumb/index finger and shove it up his nose

Does your child:
a. Scribble spontaneously
b. Scribble spontaneously on floor with permanent marker

Does your child:
a. Stack four or more blocks
b. Stack four or more blocks wherever you are most likely to trip on them

Does your

Potty Training Problems

When my toddler daughter needs to use the potty, she tells us. So we figured potty training might not be so difficult, since she already knows when she needs to go.

We figured wrong.

I expected accidents, puddles, I was prepared for it all, but potty training is not what I expected. There isn’t pee everywhere. Instead, my husband and I are dealing with a pee-pee standoff. That’s right. Our daughter does not have a problem controlling her bladder; she has a problem controlling her bladder too much.

I found out potty training was not going to go as planned when I was home alone with my daughter. She’d consumed a ton of juice and was happily sitting on her Elmo potty in the living room.

Before I knew what was happening, an hour had gone by and it was time for me to start making lunch. I left the room expecting her to

Mourning Prince… and My Youth


Last Sunday evening, around the time I should have been feeding my kids dinner, a sudden urge to poses a Prince T-shirt came over me. Purple Rain had played at the Target Center in Minneapolis, my hometown, to a crowd of 5,000 people mourning Prince. I knew they were selling Prince T-shirts in the parking lot and inside the stadium.

All weekend I’d been thinking about a Prince T-shirt. I had to have a Prince T-shirt and now.

I sent a few texts asking some friends and acquaintances were they thought I could buy a Prince T-shirt in Los Angeles. I wasn’t opposed to driving. The texts started coming in. “Ahhs! The Ultimate Gift Store.” That’s a good one. I called Ahhs!. No Prince T-shirts. “Venice Boardwalk!” Fantastic. Why didn’t I think of that?

It was close to 6:40 pm at this point. I explained to my husband my urgency for a Prince

Not So Much with the Easter Bunny

Easter Bunny Fear

Lessons I’ve Learned from Parenthood

Parenting Lessons

Who said being a parent is easy? No one, but then no one tells you it’s NOT easy either. Until after you’ve given birth. Then advice finds you quicker than you can say “Cesarean Section.”

Other parents forget to tell you their knowledge comes from the trial-and-error of raising their own offspring. In the early days I continued under the false impression that bringing up a child would be a doddle. Several years later, I’m here to report a few of the Lessons I’ve Learned from Parenthood:

Lesson One: The first five years are the best (excluding the sleepless nights). I’ve never felt more pride than when my bundle of joy smiled his first smile, took his first steps and said his first word that I had been longing to hear… “Dad, Dad, Dad.”

Still, there are things that make you smile, like fishing the car keys out of the trash bin or saving

Parenting Confession: Budgie Has Left the Building

kid-pet problems

Parenting Confession #1:

Two years ago I accidentally let my daughter’s new budgie bird escape out the window (and presumably into the jaws of a nearby cat). Yeah, not my best day.

She was beside herself with distress. So I came up with a Plan. I spent hours making panicked phone calls to every budgie breeder in the area, then told her that her budgie had been found and I was going out to pick it up.

I made my husband, her sister and all my friends swear blind that the budgie I returned with (bigger, with totally different feather patterns) was definitely 100% hers.

I explained to her that the Budgie Catcher Man had caught it by driving his special Budgie Catching Van (complete with radar and budgie tracking equipment). And that its feathering had changed because it must have lost some by getting caught in hedges. And that the feathers that had

How Reading to My Kids Changed Our Relationship

Reading to children


I love spending quality time with my kids, but the hectic pace of life gets in the way. From their school activities to my work, it’s rare that we get to do more than just pass each other on the way to our respective engagements.

But I’ve discovered one thing that lets me to carve out time with my children, and it doesn’t take (much) time or money: Reading a book together.

Reading a bedtime story every night has actually changed my relationship with my kids.

When my wife and I were first starting out, money was tight. I was in graduate school full time and also working full time when our oldest son was just three years old. I knew the time I was putting into school and my job would create a better life for him, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was missing out on some

The Parent’s Resume

Whether we work outside the home or stay at home, parenting uses every ounce of physical, emotional and verbal skill we possess. The job is huge.

So if we were hypothetically applying for a parenting job, our resumes would look something like this:


Seeking financially non-compensated, indefinite position that is challenging yet highly rewarding


 I always strive to do my best, fail miserably at times, but my persistence is admirable (there’s really no other choice). I may not have the solution for everything, but I’m willing to buy a book on “How to Be a Better Parent Because You Suck At It Right Now” or … continue to wing it and make it up as I go.


(1) CEO of Leadership 2007 (Birth of 1st child) – current

Create multitude of charts that aid in the encouragement of positive behavior.

Where There’s a Will…

She had done it a thousand times before. When Emma was younger, she would carefully and slowly roll her body down the two steps of our sunken living room.

But as she got older, she evolved into scooting down on her bottom with some semblance of graded control. It was a sight to see. Her four-foot, seventy-five pound frame propelled itself by pushing off the floor with the back of her hands while simultaneously pumping her legs, much like a caterpillar. She never took to the hand splints that were custom-made for her when she was little to keep her wrists straight and to prevent the contractions that partly defined her life.

Even as a small child, she was not going to be restrained. She somehow always managed to remove the limiting splints—using her teeth to pull apart the velcro. Survival was the name of the game for Emma, from the day she

Lose the Battle, Win the War

There I am. Standing in the budget section of the grocery store. Arms piled high in frozen dinners I’ll be lucky enough to enjoy, let alone cook, the remainder of the week. I’ve missed at least two shifts in two days of my two part time jobs. The few things I can afford to splurge on are fresh fruit and yogurt for Zoey.

And there she is. She’s running down the aisle screaming “No!!! Mine!!!!,” strewing raspberries along her path. A few people look at me, obviously wondering why I’m not disciplining her. A few others wonder why I’m not chasing her and bargaining with her.

All I can do is choose between laughing and crying.

I’m defeated.

It’s been a long couple of days and I’ll need my energy for the dinner-time battle, the bath-time war, and the bed-time hell. I calmly look at her and say, “Dude… Here’s the rest of the

Why Moms Shouldn’t Make New Year’s Resolutions


As a new year rolls around, I have some hard-won advice for moms making New Year’s resolutions: Just stop. Don’t do it. It’s a bad idea. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.

Instead, take a look at your day-to-day life: packing lunches, paying bills, doing laundry, potty training, the baby’s nap, breakfast, clean up, lunch, clean up, dinner, clean up, dry cleaning, phone calls, and on and on.

Obviously, Moms shouldn’t make New Year’s resolutions.

Here are the top eight reasons why:

1)  You’re already bombarded with everyone’s schedules and goals—you don’t need a new set for yourself.

2) If you’re talking fitness, moms do more lifting than most. Up the stairs with 35 pounds of screaming toddler, and down the stairs with 15 pounds of baby.

3) If you want to set a goal to get more sleep, that’s a very bad idea. You’ll never make this goal—not for 18+ years.