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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

10 Tips for Surviving the Family Road Trip

Rules for a Family Road Trip

As Spring Break approaches, I’m reminded of the nostalgic family road trip. As a child, I don’t remember a single vacation that was not taken on the highways of America.

When our holidays rolled around, we rolled out of the driveway in our simulated wood-paneled wagon, which was awkwardly hitched to the pop-up camper. Today, people fly, and the family road trip has slipped in popularity along with the fondue parties and potluck dinners of yesteryear. I say we bring it back.

But first, you need to be prepared. Thus…

Top 10 Tips For Surviving a Modern Day Family Road Trip:

1. Don’t Leave the Directions to Dad, Leave Them to the GPS
The problem with dads isn’t that they don’t have good directional skills. It’s that if they get lost, they have too much pride to admit that they don’t have good directional skills. Your father might knowingly drive 1500 miles in the wrong

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,

It Will All Be OK: Assurances to My Infant Son

It’s shortly after 8:00 pm, and my six-month-old, Nicholas, is inconsolable.

He’s been changed, fed and burped. He’s been read to in a soothing, upbeat tone in comedic contrast to his panicky, bloody-murder shrieks. He is up on my shoulder, snug in his sleep sack, wailing away as I gently pat his back.

My voice drops to a half-notch above a whisper as I nuzzle my mouth next to Nicholas’ ear.

“It’s all gonna be OK,” I promise, unconvincingly.

It will all be OK. This, like all moments big and small, shall pass. You’ll settle down, do your adorable little stretch-yawn, and sleep. And when you wake up, you’ll have the benefit, exclusive to infancy, of having remembered none of this trauma.

It will all be OK. Considering the desperate or downtrodden environments into which you could have been born, you lucked out. You have two married parents, each of whom has good jobs. You

Why You Are Not My Favorite Child

Our children insist we have a favorite child. I’ve explained countless times that there is no such thing. I’ve tried sharing that I, too, used to think my parents had a favorite, but now that I’m a parent… yada yada yada (they stop listening).

My husband’s favorite line is to tell one of our kids that they are “Top Ten.”

We have ten kids.

Now our lovely children enjoy debating who is in the Top Five. Sometimes one will call out a sibling saying, “You definitely made the Top Five today!” Others deem that they will remain bottom five always. It goes on and on. Honestly, it’s getting old.

So I have decided to tell my children how I really feel.

Dear Children,I’ve come to realize that none of you are my favorite and here’s why:

I’ve come to realize that none of you are my favorite and here’s why:

The reason why it takes me so

A Promise To My Daughter (Regarding Donald Trump)

Dear Sophia,

Even now, days after the election, I’m struggling with what to tell you about Donald Trump.

We’ve talked about him before. We laughed at him at first; you thought his hair was funny. You thought the way he spoke was annoying and I agreed.

Then he became the Republican nominee and we started to talk about what he was saying. We talked about how he wants to build a wall to separate people. About how he thinks that only people who look and think exactly like him deserve to be treated with respect and equality.

We talked (without going into much detail, because you’re only six) about the things he said about women and the things he had done to them. Even then, I didn’t take him seriously.

I thought I was setting the groundwork for a lesson about how the bad guys, the ones who think and say these kinds of things,

Once Upon a Time at the Department of Public Safety

This is a true story. (Cue the “Law and Order” music: DUN DUN!!!!)

This is my rendition of our trip to the Department of Public Safety.

Or as I commonly call it: Hades.

My daughter finished Driver’s Ed and had been driving with her permit for about a year. We were ready to take the final road test and get her license.

All my friends had given me advice. Somehow, Friend A just “walked on in” to this office and was out in 20 minutes. Friend B arrived very early to the Supercenter and was one of the first ten “walk-ins” so they were in and out quickly.

Apparently, I am Friend C, because I didn’t have this skip-into-the-office-with-a-basket-of-goodies-and-come-out-with-a-shiny-new-driver’s-license-for-my-child experience.

It began on the phone—not talking to anyone, mind you—just listening to ringing, busy signals and a system that tells you to press this and press that and then transfers you to an office in Botswana that

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”

https://www.flickr.com/photos/hills_alive/6706870821/in/photolist

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

My Child’s Toys Are Holding Me Hostage

As the mother of a two year old, I’ve accumulated a lot of toys.

When my daughter started favoring a certain toy I thought it was the most adorable thing.

Minnie Mouse was her world. When I heard her in her crib, crying for Minnie, instead of getting annoyed I smiled at how charming it was, and I happily went to reunite them.

Then things took a turn. We went on vacation and God help us if Minnie wasn’t with us every step of the way. We might be halfway across the resort but if it was discovered Minnie was left behind, it was pointless to continue any further; no one was going to have any fun until Minnie was tucked safely into my daughter’s tiny arms.

Minnie had a rough time at the beach. She returned home with a ripped bow, covered in dirt, and I had to sneak her into the washer

College Tour: You Can’t Go Home Again

As our Corolla rounded the last turn on the Maine country road, unresplendent now with foliage as ground cover, my alma mater’s monolithic athletic complex cropped up suddenly, separating the boondocks from academia.

The gym was my savior in the bitterly cold Maine winters, when even on a sunny day the sun was a slacker. Unlike a lot of my outdoorsy classmates who loved the winter for the skiing, skating, snow-shoeing and snow-yellowing, I was an indoor guy. I would have gone stir crazy without nights of pick-up B-ball with my friends in the cozy gym. It was a luxury to work up an enjoyable sweat in a -15 degree world.

But the real fun was getting back to my dorm in the Martian environment that awaited outside. The athletic complex was a campus outpost, several icy walkways and parking lots from the dorm. Even dressed in my artic parka, the trek

The Motherhood Tracksuits

My days as a first-time mother were magical, largely due to friends. I was late to motherhood, so I watched their postpartum pitfalls and planned to avoid them accordingly.

I developed a theory that self-preservation, not perfection, was the post-delivery theme. Cornerstone would be avoiding zippers. Hence, four size-large tracksuits constituted my postpartum trousseau.

The brown velour worked for mommy-and-me classes. The slimming black fit most occasions. The gray jersey was for homebound days. My favorite had cropped pants. This unexpected flair made it winter-spring transitional.

Pre-baby I did not find tracksuits appropriate for anything except, well, track events. But post-delivery, I discarded fashion norms.

I discarded other norms, too. Following wedding etiquette, I allowed a year to acknowledge baby presents. Meals requiring more than two pots were out. I noticed friends who were “productive” during babies’ naps were not fun or rested. Hence, I patterned my sleep schedule exactly to my preemie’s; I’d

Love in the Time of Rainbow Dash

“She wants to dress up as Rainbow Dash for Halloween,” I explained to my wife about our four-year-old daughter’s request for a costume.

“What the hell is a Rainbow Bash?” she asked.

“Okay, first of all, it’s Rainbow Dash, not Bash,” I said in the tone of a petulant five year old. “A Rainbow Bash sounds like the after-party of a Pride parade. Rainbow Dash, on the other hand, is a Pegasus.”

“A what?” she asked.

“A Pegasus. A horse that can fly. They’re one of three species of horse that populate Ponyville.”

“What the hell are you talking about?”

I inhaled. “Ponyville is a town in the land of Equestria. Canterlot, of course, is the capital city of Equestria. Anyways, Ponyville is where Princess Celestia sent Twilight Sparkle, her prize student, to study and learn from the interactions among the residents and thus learn more about interpony relationships.”

“I understood four words from what you just

Trying on the Coach’s Hat

When my wife suggested that we coach an under-four YMCA soccer team; I felt a deep internal groan bellow throughout my being.

I had questions. I uncovered that my wife’s best friend had sent out feelers for coaches. I guess finding a fearless leader for four year olds was a difficult task.

Another piece of this puzzle was that my wife was a shade over three months pregnant with our first child. This was supposed to be a selling point to prepare ourselves for endeavors to follow.

She wanted me to coach a team of wildling children who may or may not be interested in the sport of soccer. I played soccer when I was a young boy, and at some point mentioned this to my attentive wife. Her maternal instinct mixed with the fact that I knew the basic rules of a sport equaled a signed, sealed and delivered proposal.

I will admit

Why My House?

Why is it every kid in the neighborhood has to play at my house?

As I sit at my computer trying to focus, all I hear is the neighbor girl’s blood-curdling screams of joy while she chases my boys for a kiss or a touch. Go home. Better yet, go home forever and never come back.

I would say this to her but I don’t want to be responsible for her outpatient therapy in the future. I’ve told them all to play in the cul-de-sac or at her house but I’m pretty sure my kids are not allowed in her yard. Then again… they don’t WANT to play in her yard. She has a dog. I have sons and they are afraid of dogs. What did I eat while I was pregnant?

I don’t think other parents are dumb enough to let this go on every day.

Are we the fun parents on

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

Clear or Transparent

If I have to go to Walgreen’s one more time to buy tape I’ll strangle myself. I would strangle the kids but I’m not sure I have time to go to prison. I say the kids, because it’s they who steal my tape.

They tape everything. It’s on my new carpet, toothpicks, and all the army men. What the tape is supposed to do is beyond me. But okay. If they like it so much, I’ll just throw a couple of rolls into their Christmas stockings this year. Santa gives tape right?

While I’m at it, I’ll stop over to McDonald’s and speak to the manager about putting tape into the Happy Meals instead of useless, boring toys.

I’ve tried to hide the rolls of tape. The kids know every single one of my hiding spots though, so forget that. I need a high place, a high shelf that even they can’t reach. Wait a second… I can’t reach the LOW shelves either

How David Cassidy Influenced My Children’s Bilingual Education

https://www.flickr.com/photos/robphoto/2604969633/in/photolist

When I was in Junior High I read Tiger Beat (think People Magazine for 12-year-olds) cover to cover, going over the David Cassidy features at least three times before flipping through the rest.

I remember one article, though, about Jodie  Foster. It said she went to a school where they spoke only French. All reading assignments, testing, lunchtime conversation, etc. were in a foreign language.

Having taken a year or so of French—45 minutes every other day—I did not  believe this was possible. I assumed the story was as realistic as my shot at winning the Tiger Beat Dream Date with David Cassidy.

Actually, at 12, I likely thought I had a better chance of a date with David then Jodie did of speaking French all day, every day.

 When our oldest was getting ready for elementary school, I was surprised one of  our options was a Spanish Immersion program. All day,