I am so grateful to my college friend Melissa Lawrence for allowing me to guest post at her terrific parenting site, CloudMom.  Melissa is a mother of five who shares all that she has learned in her years as a parent:  from swaddling to breastfeeding to learning not to take it all so darn seriously. [...]

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The Summer of my Content

August 11, 2013

  This morning I stumbled across article that simply won’t get read enough, I am sure. It’s a New York Times article explaining a study of women’s job satisfaction when they are in positions of authority.  In explaining the gender gap in leadership, these social scientists looked at the perceived benefits (not even financial benefits) [...]

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Today’s New York Times Well Blog carries an article about “Fat Talk,” that pernicious conversation that most women in my demographic have been schooled in since we were teenagers. Here are the rules of this incredibly destructive sort of conversation, carried on all day long among otherwise sane and competent women: 1. If you are [...]

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Mother 101

May 12, 2013

June piles the children into a canoe on an Adirondack lake in 1949.  Black flies fill the air, biting and buzzing their little heads.  Being outdoors is good for you, she teaches, without saying a word.  I am decades in the future, my girls decades more.  But the lessons began long before they were needed, [...]

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On Empathy and Shoes

May 7, 2013

“Hmp, maybe we need a police force of children….you children last night made Walter Cunningham stand in my shoes for a minute.  That was enough.”    —   Atticus Finch, speaking to his children, in To Kill a Mockingbird   Teenagers are famously lacking in empathy.  Their inability to see another’s perspective is our chief complaint [...]

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A short excerpt from the Camp Fail S’More Spring Brochure Parents, do you live in dread of raising spoiled, whining, coddled brats like those insufferable tennis-champion Cogburn twins down the block? Are you worried that your children will graduate from college only to buckle at the least whiff of challenge and come running to you for health [...]

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Perspective

August 14, 2012

This week we’re on vacation in rural Ireland, which is just as green, lush, and wild as you might imagine.  We are staying close to a particular site where they film all those movies that require a backdrop of timeless hilly beauty, and spending our days hiking. But even though we’re all on the same [...]

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  “Why haven’t you been posting on your blog, Launa?” It’s a question I’ve been meaning to answer.  But it’s taken me awhile to set it all straight in my own mind before explaining it here to you. You know how sometimes when you haven’t spoken for awhile, you need to make some icky throat [...]

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My Kind of Patriot

May 14, 2012

Tonight at dinner I showed Grace an extremely smart article on Motherlode, a blog I frequent. This piece, written by Catherine Newman, discusses her son Ben’s long hair (currently dyed bright pink) and her utopian dreams of a day when nobody will need to comment on it, bother him about it, or assume anything about [...]

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When I became a teacher, I thought my job was all about the lessons I needed to teach. But really, the first lesson I needed to learn was this: If something in my class or in my school wasn’t working, I could not expect it to start to benefit my students and their learning unless I changed. [...]

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Take a Load off, Annie

April 2, 2012

When my favorite blog (Motherlode) announced that its book club would be reading the newest book by one of my favorite authors (Annie Lamott) I signed on as fast as I could.  I was eager to see how Lamott would take on sudden, unexpected grandparenthood — and even more eager for the humor, oversharing, and dead-on [...]

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Snorkeling to Africa

March 28, 2012

We are on vacation. Spending the whole two weeks of school vacation with our families: first with DH and his family, and a second week with my beloved sister, Auntie Gaela.  It is heaven, with a side order of coconut tart. Here in the tropics, nothing much ever happens. The TV screen stays black, books [...]

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So, what really happens in a house with “No TV”? Whenever my children don’t have something in particular to do, or I haven’t come up with something to occupy them, they often slink off and click on some sort of screen.  We don’t have cable or network TV, so they can’t watch that, but since [...]

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(A letter mostly to myself… as one of my children prepares to exit preteen purgatory, and the other one teeters on the brink…) Part One:  Let the eye rolling begin, for it will. There will be — if there has not been already — the shouting of “I HATE you” as she stomps, furious, down [...]

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When my husband and I moved our family, sight unseen, to a tiny village in southern France, planning to stay for a year, we thought we knew what we were doing.  In our mind’s eyes, it was crystal clear: our children would magically learn to speak French, I would somehow master recipes and cooking implements [...]

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California Christmas

December 23, 2011

When I was young, each Christmas was exactly the same, and we needed it to be that way.  We decorated our tiny country church on the first Saturday in December, then sat in the front pews together and sang all the same hymns. Advent wreaths hung from invisible wire on each side of the pulpit.  [...]

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“One of the finest pieces of advice I’ve ever received about parenthood was this: never judge a parent whose children are older than yours.” KJ Dell’antonia dropped this line into a Motherlode blog post this week about high school students and drinking, and I’m thinking of having it tattooed on my forehead backwards so that [...]

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What They Ought To Be

November 13, 2011

“Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and you help them to become what they are capable of being.” — Goethe     I struggle a lot as a parent.  These most complicated relationships don’t come easily to me — the ones unfolding here in my house.  I admit my difficulties [...]

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In Praise of Play

November 6, 2011

This weekend, we put aside work in favor of play.  I played music three different times:  first with the Tiki Brothers on Saturday night, belting out Aretha Franklin covers and singing harmony on Johnny Cash’s Big River.  DH came out to hear us, and we all stayed up way too late, enjoying the rare feeling [...]

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Dinner at Roberta’s

October 24, 2011

The posts here are few and far between, but our adventures accelerate all the time. Here are the girls, grinning and goofy together the night we all went to Roberta’s pizza in Bushwick. The place is a ramshackle miracle,  old shipping containers nailed together to make a series of connected rooms.  They serve fancier dishes, [...]

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Costume rental at Colonial Williamsburg came with instructions on proper deportment.  Both girls practiced walking like this most of the day. Later on, we bought them some flint and a steel, after which they spent the rest of the day making sparks, unconcerned that their enthusiastic efforts might be burn little holes in the dresses. [...]

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Am I expecting enough of my children, preparing them to be resilient and strong? Or do I ask too much, and give too little, leaving them feeling lost and low? Paul Tough’s brilliant article in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine and yesterday’s Motherlode blog each explore an issue that has vexed me since the day [...]

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Risk

September 6, 2011

You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land, there is no other life but this. – Henry David Thoreau, cited on a million or so “Inspirational Quotations” websites   It’s [...]

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This summer, I did not finish editing my book.  I did not make any money, or contribute to the economy in any way other than as a consumer and a traveler — buying food and sending my kids to summer camp.  I did not do very much yoga.  My garden still looks bleak and weedy. [...]

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The very very best reason I can think of to learn to speak French is that it’s seriously, exceptionally, wonderfully gorgeous, and you really should get here someday, even if it’s just for a few weeks.  But save up your pennies because Euros cost 140 each.  And learn some French,  because being in France with [...]

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Then and Now

August 7, 2011

Tonight I made ratatouille for dinner.  I cut two big eggplants from the garden, then chopped and salted them to get them to release their bitterness.  I gathered basil, thyme, a bowlful of tomatoes, and a gargantuan zucchini with a skin as tough as a winter squash.  I chopped onions and peppers, and cooked each [...]

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We spent the weekend deep in the woods of New Hampshire, hiking with great friends we have known forever.   We sat at benches to eat family style, slept in bunks, and hiked the rocky trails all day long. I may be just the tiniest bit sore in the calves as I write this post. On [...]

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The Sound of Time Passing

August 3, 2011

  It sounds like giggles in the night.  And whining on the trail when we’re all hiking.  It sounds like thunder in the distance making us run for shelter.  (OK, maybe that was just me running.)   It sounds like Scrabble tiles clicking, and the Hut Croo playing the violin in the morning to wake [...]

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Proud Mama

July 27, 2011

When you complain about your perfectly lovely children as much as I do, it seems only fair to note the moments when they so drastically outstrip your expectations. That’s sort of a roundabout way of saying that I need to tell you that Grace has been just astonishing me lately.  I need to write it [...]

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My neighborhood fills itself constantly with new babies.  Brand new mothers are everywhere, tiny bundles strapped to their chests, baby bumps still bulgy.   I saw one mother today with two children.  She wore one baby close in a sling.  Her older daughter, who couldn’t have been more than two, wore a matching sling with a [...]

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Music Lessons

June 21, 2011

OK, OK — last Band Camp post.  I promise. In this one, I try to explain, mostly for my own edification, what I learned by singing and writing and playing.  I hope here to name what might be traveling home with me, aside from a whole lot of smelly laundry and a dozen nasty mosquito [...]

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  I don’t like Mondays any more than do the Boomtown Rats, but the first day of Music Camp was stellar. The loons on the lake woke me at first light.  Instead of fighting my way back to sleep, I rose and walked to the glass house on the wide dock. As far as I [...]

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The Family of Yes

June 19, 2011

Meet The Family of Yes. No, not the late 80′s super group. It’s us.  If you know us, you might be surprised to hear me call us anything but conflicted.  But this was my goal for us for a week as a family at Music Camp. That we say Yes.  At least that we would [...]

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Unplugged

June 11, 2011

Early tomorrow morning, we head for Miles of Music camp (rather than Laundry Camp, thank god) for a full week of strings-driven folk music.  We will sleep in a cabin with screens for walls, and with no electricity.  We will eat at communal tables rather than walking fast with a hotdog and a Starbuck’s venti [...]

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The Rules

June 8, 2011

I briefly toyed with naming this new blog of mine “Because I Said So,” as a way to grab back a little of the maternal authority that my generation has thrown out the window.  But honestly, now that my girls are moving out of girlhood towards adolescence, my word is no longer an adequate law.  [...]

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This weekend, DH and I went out to Rucola,   a super-swank new Italian bistro in Boerum Hill.  We were there for dinner with a couple of our oldest and dearest friends. I mean “oldest” as in I’ve known Stephanie since we were nine.  Not as in she’s old, or we’re old.  No damn way.  And [...]

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Laundry Camp

June 2, 2011

Sometimes in our house, it’s the mom who acts like a spoiled brat.  Yes, I mean me. Like yesterday, when I was trying and wheedling and thinking of any possible way that I could get my kids to go to this supercool new family music camp I heard about. I tried the hooks that sometimes [...]

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