The 2014 Chronicle Books #GiveBooks Pledge


This holiday season, instead of eating yourself into a ham coma, I encourage you to participate in the free Give Books Campaign (click it!) sponsored by Chronicle Books. I suppose those aren’t mutually exclusive. One could, technically, gorge on festive meats and share his or her love of literacy with those less fortunate. I can’t tell you how to live your life, but if you’re in the bizarre predicament of having to choose between a ham coma and giving books, I think you know what to do

Here’s how it works: for every #GiveBooks tweet, pin, and online pledge, Chronicle will donate a children’s book to First Book, a non-profit organization that provides new books to children in need.

Book Excerpt: Signs That You’re a Bad Parent

It’s unlikely that any of these would result in any permanent damage, but at the same time, if you nod to more than, say, half of the items on this list, you should really step up your game.

1. Your child claims his favorite flavor is purple.
2. He refers to the dining room wall as his canvas.
3. When he gives hugs, he says, “Oh yeah, gimme some sugar!”
4. He knows all the characters on Game of Thrones.
5. His favorite color is chocolate.
6. Having never potty trained him, he’s now too big for regular diapers and must wear Depends.

Consider This Your Warning

Be prepared to probably not do any of the following things for at least three years after having children. These are in no particular order:
  1. Say no to pizza
  2. Floss
  3. Canoe
  4. Take more than 8 minutes to eat a meal
  5. Have a great pair of socks
  6. Set your alarm
  7. Go antiquing
  8. Stretch
  9. Like your hair
  10. Hold in a fart
  11. Hang glide
  12. Make a Salad
  13. Listen to a story
  14. Use a hot tub
  15. Iron something
  16. Snorkel
  17. Karate
  18. Emergency couple's therapy
Don't freak-out.

Tips For Calling In Sick

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My friend Jeremy has a great policy: If you’re going to call in sick to work, make it something your boss will be too scared or embarrassed to question. He has used “I have to get my lung drained” on multiple occasions. The response is usually, “Oh God, take as much time as you need.” BINGO. Here are some more suggestions. Try them out and let me know how they worked for you.

  • Organ rejections. “My body is rejecting the pig aorta I got when I was 17. Did you know I had a heart defect that caused me to need a pig aorta?

Don’t Do Things Like I Do

I can’t do anything without my seven year-old questioning my motives. I know he’s just trying to figure out how the world works and what motivates people, but his curiosity is forcing me to analyze my own behavior, and it’s hard enough to admit to myself that I grabbed the 1% milk instead of the whole milk because I’m tired and it was closer, but now I’m stuck admitting to him that so many of the decisions I make are driven by convenience and sloth.

Sometimes he’ll ask questions that require sage fatherly advice, like “Do we believe in God?” and though I’m up to that task, the majority of his inquiries still pivot on banalities that I’m shamefully unprepared to answer.

Taking My Father’s Class

CiceroI was the youngest student in the class and unfortunately the most naive and confident—there’s no more toxic a combination than youth and bravado. The other students were college juniors from prestigious universities, and I was fresh off graduating from Rutherford Hayes high school in Delaware Ohio. My Dad had accepted a director position at an abroad program in Florence Italy, and I was brought along for the ride. My unearned intellectual confidence begged to be euthanized, but I never anticipated it would be at the hands of my father’s political theory class.

From a young age, I remember my dad’s students dropping by the house just to hang out with “Doctor Good.” One of them had a Fu Man Chu mustache and a hammer & sickle tattoo on his upper arm.


The Pinewood Derby


My grandfather’s basement workshop was pristine and overly outfitted, like he’d won it on a gameshow. As a boy, I would venture down there with him to fix a wobbly chair or grab a hammer needed to re-enforce a birdhouse. He was over prepared.

I was ten years-old and in the Cub Scouts for the first time. The Pinewood Derby was the big event of the year—our gender’s equivalent of Girl Scout cookie season. Each of us received the same kit: one rectangular block of wood; four wheels, and two axles. We could paint it however we liked, add passengers, cover it in stickers—anything that made it uniquely ours.

You Deserve a Break


About a year ago, I drove through a pothole and my front tire exploded. Because I’m a proper lady, I called AAA to come put my spare on for me. I drove the doughnut-wheeled car to the Honda dealership where I waited for them to replace the tire. I texted my wife and told her that I’d be stuck there for a few hours, to which she responded, “Oh God, I’m so jealous. I would do anything to get a break like that.” Lesson: No matter how much we love our children, we’re also desperate to get away from them. Before having a family, taking out the garbage was a chore; now it’s a thirty-second vacation.

Operation Roommate

Here, you’ll find the psychologically complicated eight-step process my son used to trick me into sleeping in his bed with him. I encourage you to watch for the warning signs that your kid might be attempting something similar.

Step 1. Establish need: Wake frequently at night, causing your father to go from a dead sleep to a full-on sprint at least 15 times a night. You’re the first born, so your parents still freak-out anytime you cry. Use this to your advantage.

Step 2. Convergence: After twelve consecutive nights, your parents will start putting you to sleep in their bed where you’ll stay all night.

Baby Wipes Forever

We no longer have babies and should — at least traditionally — have no use for baby wipes. But I’m here to admit that we just received a brand new shipment. On my list of priorities these days, “conserving paper” is right above “Inventing a car that runs on pee.” A year ago, when I changed a diaper, I would lay out a dozen of them, like I was setting up a game of wipe solitaire. We still have a container in nearly every room and use them now for a variety off-label uses.

  1. Degreasing my phone
  2. Crushing bugs
  3. Moistening a temporary tattoo
  4. Wipe-down the refrigerator handles.