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We don’t own a generator, so when the hurricane-force winds blew through Amherst on Sunday a tree branch fell somewhere on our neighborhood power grid and knocked out power to our block of houses, among thousands of others in our area. With each successive storm, we’ve noticed more neighbors firing up generators. So now we are among the few who are powerless when an…

Did you get your fill of "A Christmas Story," the classic comedy that ran all day and night on TBS on Thursday? Donald Fagen, the co-founder of Steely Dan, writes in Slate about the creator of the story that the movie was based on, Jean Shepherd, a writer and storyteller who was a beloved late-night radio personality in New York. Fagen grew up "desperatel…

  One of Santa's proteges came down our street on a fire truck this afternoon, followed by his posse of support cars. He waved to neighbors, as Christmas music was playing. This tradition is always a Christmas Eve highlight, even though some might consider it a bit politically incorrect. Over the years, we've been lucky that there has never been a fire in Snyder du…

You've got to love those unplanned snow days, don't you? Our school decided at 6:30 this morning to pull the plug. In our case it did not cause a parental emergency today -- at least so far -- but I know that in many households, it did. How much scrambling did your family have to do this morning to cover having the kids home? My brother John lives in Burke, Va., where a…

Let's "surf the Web," as the kids say, to find some holiday gift ideas for the family. At "On Youth and Teens Today," Becca suggests giving our teens an experience (a road trip, attending a sporting event, baking or building something togther) rather than buying them things. Tech Mamas reviews 17 cool gifts for techie teens, including Orb watches. Su…

Health and Fitness

"Allison didn't disturb the tree," my mother wrote in my baby book on my first Christmas two score and seven years ago. Many years later, I entered the following First Christmas incident in my son's baby book: "Greg threw cream cheese at the tree." You get the idea of how civilization, at least in this family, has declined. We put up the tree over th…

Last night I finally expressed a thought that's been weighing on me for years: I'm not a fan of Dr. Seuss books. When I spoke those words at our dinner table, our Caroline gave me a look not unlike that of Cindy Lou in "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," in the scene in which the wide-eyed child watches the person who she thinks is Santa Claus attempt to steal her…

Black Friday (Nov. 28) was followed by Pink Friday (Dec. 5), the day we learned that more than 500,000 people were handed pink slips in November, with predictions that many more are coming in the months ahead. While these are statistics, the families they affect are real people. (The New York University Child Study Center has some good advice, should you or your family or …

Some parents of special-needs children tell their stories in Sunday's Buffalo News, in a Spotlight cover story by Andrew Galarneau. What comes through to me from their words is the pride they take in their children and the obstacles that they have overcome together. The parents whom Andrew interviewed are skilled at expressing the reality of their lives. They don't sett…

There's a great post on the Greater Good Science Center's Half Full blog this week about teaching conflict resolution to your kids. Their first point is: Yelling at kids to "just knock it off" isn't going to teach them anything. Giving them some guidance on conflict resolution, then allowing them to work out their conflicts themselves, will be very useful to the…

As we wrap up 2008, here’s my early entry on the  In/Out list: Conspicuous consumption – out. Conspicuous deprivation – in. It’s not enough to not have enough, we have to publicize it with a new sort of competitive pride. Our family’s decaying minivan, once a sign of blight, is now a badge of honor.  If we were to replace if and pull up in a new Humm…

How was your family's Thanksgiving? It's such a nice, low-key holiday, compared to some others. As Seth Godin says: No gifts, no guilt, no doctrine. We had a massive fowl for dinner, even though Allison doesn't eat meat and none of our kids will try turkey. Let's just say meal planning in our house is a nightmare. We did take our eating to the next level at dessert, of c…

Health and Fitness

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Between Allison being away all week and the passing of my friend Tom Borrelli, I haven't found much time to blog. Our 9-year-old son was envisioning what it will be like when Allison returns Saturday and is greeted at the door by our puppy. "Mom will probably have one of her senior moments," Greggie said. "She and Fiyero will run toward each other in slow …

After another weekend of being a basketball/drama/swimming dad, I found the video below to be pretty funny. The title is "How Not to Be a Soccer Mom." It's from a site called Howcast. (Hat tip to Happy Healthy Hip Parenting.) They have a collection of videos for parents, including: "How to Text Your Way into Your Kid's Life," "How to Be a Good Pa…