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I'm not a fan of kids’ birthday parties. Yes, I’m part of the problem, having hosted oodles of them for our three kids over the years and doing unto other parents what I hate being done to me – which is spending a sunny Sunday afternoon in a windowless Petri dish of ball pits and laser rooms. Once I hit 40 and the kids grew, hosting parties was no longer a core competence…

Online television has taken over from actual television in our home. That's because we got rid of our cable connection (and our TV set), but there is so much available online that we barely miss the old broadcast box. Online TV seems ubiquitous these days (and it's everywhere). I've been using Hulu.com to find programming, but this week a blog called "Connect With …

In Sunday's New York Times Magazine, Joshua Yaffa writes about growing up in a home in which junk food, fast food, sugary cereals and anything remotely unhealthful was banned by his parents. The law of unintended consequences kicked in, and he and his sister developed some strong cravings for Whoppers, Captain Crunch and other staples of the All-American diet. One facet o…

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 out…

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 Hummer, we wou…

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…