How I improved my morning routine

When I was a single parent, I would get up at 6am to get ready before my kids woke up — all advice for how to get ready in the morning recommends this. But then the kids realized that if they woke up early they could watch videos, because what else is there to give the kids to keep them from fighting? So then I'd get up at 5:30, to get ready for work in peace, and then the kids got up at 5:30 with me.

They won the alarm-clock arms race. So I had to make another plan. I read reams of rants and rational advice about getting out of the house in the morning. Here’s what is working so far:

1. Get a schedule and stick to it.

I made a visual schedule for each of us, which I learned about from my son's occupational therapist because people with Asperger's often forget what they are doing next, or get anxious if they don't have a clear list of tasks. It helped a lot, but it didn't overcome having two boys doing the tasks at the same time. Can someone tell me when brothers stop fighting with each other over everything? And are we the only family that has a violent wedgie problem after reading Captain Underpants?

2. Forget the Norman Rockwell vision of breakfast.

I almost never listen to advice about what to feed kids because when my first son was sixteen months old, he was failure to thrive. He basically stopped eating, due to sensory integration issues, and his energy got so low that he stopped being able to pull himself up to standing. He was just days from being admitted to the hospital when a doctor told me I had to get fat into him. I said, “What about vitamins?” And the doctor said that before a child is three, fat is what really matters.

I was shocked. I followed my son around all day with spoonfuls of butter, and I kept him out of the hospital until a feeding therapist could force-feed him other high-fat content foods, like, ice cream and French fries.

So look, after living through that, I am not susceptible to articles about parents stressing that their kids don't eat enough vegetables. Whatever. I mean, they're eating. Just be grateful.

3. Skip sugar in the morning. It’s like crack.

But I do think that if my kids eat sugar for breakfast, they will have a sugar crash before lunch, at school, and sneaking a sugar-laden pick-me-up is not going to fly with the teachers. So I make them eat stuff without extra sugar.

The farmer eats hamburger for breakfast. No kidding. He thinks a meal is not a meal without meat, and he used to eat pork for breakfast, but if you want to know what it looks like to have Jews on a pig farm, picture an Egg McMuffin with a hamburger in it.

The kids aren't going for that. They want to know why they can't have Sugar Pops.

“There's a free Nintendo in each box!” they tell me.

I tell them it's only the potential to win one in each box. But that they will not win one.

They think I'm a pessimist and they continue to clamor.

This makes me think I should market the farmer's beef as hotdogs with the potential to win a dream team to kill the Pokemon Elite Four. My fine print will say, “One winner every ten years. And offer applies only to people who have all their Pokemon at level 80 or higher.”

4. Reward good behavior.

The kids get a star each morning they successfully follow the plan, and they can use twenty stars to get a new Pokemon cartridge.

Wait. Are there any Pokemon geniuses here? Because I am convinced that video games are educational, I've been letting my kids become completely obsessed over Pokemon Platinum. But I started reading about it, because honestly I had no idea if it's a cult or what, but it turns out that the game is actually very collaborative.

People always ask me what Generation Z will be like. First of all, I think they will all be great at getting ready for work in the morning because their moms were so structured in the morning so they weren't late for work. But also, generation Z will be exceptionally collaborative because they are playing games like Pokemon that you can't win unless you collaborate, via electronics.

For example, my son somehow figured out how to trade Pokemon on his DSi without me ever telling him it was possible. And then he started begging me to go to Madison, which he normally hates driving to because it always means he has a violin lesson. I thought it meant that all the structure I am providing with violin has finally made him love the idea of schedules leading to achievement. But he wants to go to Madison really only so he can find other kids, via some DSi built-in tool, to trade with.

So the Gen Z workforce will expect to work in teams constantly, from their remote locations. This is a good time to link to the location independent site that blows me away with the community’s assumption that working remotely is a God-given right. Because I think, in ten years, it will be.

What will people with Asperger's do? Collaboration is not our strength, after all. And if you talk about Gen Z, you have to also talk about Asperger's because no generation will have more kids diagnosed with this. Ever. My son decided that he needed a second DSi and a second cartridge (Pokemon Perl) so that he could be both himself and the friend he needs to trade with.

5. Try breaking some rules.

I think a lot about how a generation of Asperger-diagnosed workers will change corporate America. Maybe the people with Asperger's will be the innovators. This is what I was thinking when:

I tried making waffles for my kids every morning. All advice says do not make fancy breakfasts on school days, but I thought this would shake things up. It did. But in a bad way.

I tried drinking. The house manager arrived at the house shortly after I got the kids to school and recommended some wine as a way to cope. At first I thought she was crazy, but then I thought: This is thinking out of the box.

I tried having my house manager come early, to help me. I did not actually think of this. I like to think of it as crowdsourcing my morning routine. Commenters told me to hire someone. And it worked.

But now that I'm married, it seems to me that I should be able to get the kids out of the house by following the mainstream advice in magazines. The farmer helps me as I move the kids through getting dressed, doing farm chores, practicing their instruments, and eating breakfast.

By the time we get to breakfast, I am so in love with the kids for getting through everything else, that I become a short-order cook. Today I made quesadillas for my five-year-old and oatmeal for my seven-year-old. The older one announced that the light in the house was too bright and he needed to eat his oatmeal with sunglasses.

“Fine,” I said. “Get yourself a spoon.”

Then he announced that the smell of quesadillas was making him sick.

“I don't believe it,” I said. “You've been eating quesadillas since you were three. You love them.”

“No,” he said. “They are disgusting. I'm going to throw up they smell so bad.”

And then he did.

“Clean it up before you eat your oatmeal,” I said.

I have to be very casual about his throwing up. He can do it on demand and I can't let him control me by grossing me out. If nothing else, he could threaten my stream of family productivity with the threat of throwing up, and this would make morning routines impossible. Such clear thinking makes me feel like a smart mom when I say “clean it up,” but only at home. Saying the same thing in public sounds heartless and does not go over well with bystanders.

While my older son is earnestly cleaning up vomit by using a dry paper towel to spread it around so the whole house will smell like vomit in an hour, my youngest sees an opportunity to improvise our morning script and he turns the quesadilla into a space ship.

I am about to remind the kids where we are in our visual schedule when my older son goes outside on the porch to eat.

I tell him, “Good job finding a solution to your problem.”

And I pat myself on the back that I've made it through another morning without tearing my heart out.

Posted in Productivity
71 comments on “How I improved my morning routine
  1. Lisa Wallace says:

    I especially like the last line about not tearing your heart out – because that’s how I feel lately. My 3-year old can push my buttons like no one’s business (yes, already!). Sigh.

  2. Carrie says:

    can you post what a visual schedule looks like? or even better share the one you use. id love to give it a go

  3. KateNonymous says:

    I like the visual schedule idea–I think that might work for us.

  4. Travel with Kids says:

    Rewarding good behavior is about the worst way to get a child to act in an appropriate cooperative manner – consistently. (OK, maybe punishing good behavior would be worse, but I’ll leave that one out.)

    There are intrinsic reasons for doing something (put your shoes on so that we can go outside to play) and extrinsic reasons for doing something (put your shoes on so that you get a reward). Almost everything that parents find “easy” with their kids will fall into the first group, the most challenging will almost always fall into the second group. Try “rewarding” a kid for not throwing knives across the room or smashing car windows with rocks – and I guarantee, you’ll have a problem with your child throwing knives and smashing car windows.

    This is pretty well documented in child development research (reward a child for a good painting and they’ll probably lose interest in painting). As someone who regularly quotes recent studies in her blogs I’m surprised you got this one so wrong. No biggy, just surprised.

    Otherwise a very big fan.

    • Shannon says:

      I don’t know about that. I studied Applied Behavior Analysis in order to tutor children with autism, and almost all of the drills we used were based on rewarding good behavior. And let me tell you, when I took my autistic students to preschool, they were the most well-behaved and polite kids there among the “normals”. What’s more common is that parents reward *bad* behavior, without even realizing they’re doing it, e.g. buying them candy to make them stop screaming in the store. Then they will start screaming every chance they get, hoping to get more candy, because it worked once. You have to be consistent.

  5. Lisa says:

    Good job Penelope. Seriously. That stuff is hard. But I have to ask. Does this mean you’ve stopped saying Fuck?

  6. Nancy says:

    Sorry if I laughed, Penelope. At age 3, my sensory processing disordered kid wouldn’t eat either. He used to do the “tasmanian devil” (whirling, crashing, and screaming) because he was so dementedly hungry. But we were trying followed Approved Parenting Advice by telling him he had to eat what was on his plate.

    We were so stupid.

    My son has made it to high school. He is still skinny as dental floss, and won’t eat pizza, soda pop, mixed foods, spicy goo, or fatty meat. But (get this) he eats a far more varied and healthy diet of than any of the kids of those pious moms who lectured me on what my kid should eat.

    I think that parenting magazines should be declared The Enemy. Their purpose is to sell ads for Parental Paranoia Products, not to make our mornings any easier.

  7. Jens Fiederer says:

    A couple of my friends are brother and sister. She is 35, he is a bit older. They still fight on occasion, but I believe no underwear is involved.

  8. beans says:

    it sounds to me like your older son, between the nausea, vomit, sensitivity to light and smells — may have been experiencing migraine symptoms.

  9. Barchbo says:

    @TravelWithKids: Dealing with austism/Aspberger/ASD kids can and often is very different than many traditional child-rearing processes. Rewarding a child for following a structured plan can be a very useful tool in continuing and reinforcing the behavior. So, while it may be, in your opinion (and the in the opinions of researchers who don’t actually spend extended periods of time with children, especially special-needs children) the “worst” idea, in Penelope’s case it’s an excellent idea. In our unit for ASD kids, everyone has at least one chart. As the children age and accumulate more strengths there is less extrinsic reward, of course.

    Not a parent – just someone who works with autistic/Asperger/ASD kids. And I have had way too many parents in my classroom/office in tears to presume to tell them how to do their jobs (except the one who gave pot to her 14 year old son. I did tell her THAT was a terrible idea. But since she had Asperger Syndrome, too, I had to explain to her in detail why she shouldn’t, even if it seemed to help.)

    • Penelope Trunk says:

      Thanks so much for this comment. It’s true that a lot of stuff that works with typically developing children is useless for kids with Asperger’s.

      I have so many people in my life like you — professionals trained to help people deal with Asperger’s. And each person teaches me something different, but they are all so nonjudgmental, which is maybe the best lesson to learn.

      Penelope

    • Travel with Kids says:

      @Barchbo: Fair enough. If you’re talking about kids with Asperger’s then perhaps the formula is different. (I never read Penelope’s posts as “advice for people with Asperger’s” but as more general advice about life – and in this case parenting.)

      If you’re talking about kids in general there is no debate: rewards don’t work. In fact I’d be hard pressed to think of an instance where they don’t make matters considerably worse.

      • Jennifer says:

        I’m sorry, but this sounds like a bunch of bullshit to me. Everyone needs to hear “good job” or get a reward on occasion, whether they are children or adults. And doing things the right way because it makes your mom happy and she tells you so is not a bad lesson to learn. Doing things ONLY for rewards is a problem, but one I suspect rarely occurs in these situations – and when it does, the solution is unlikely to be less rewards, but more boundaries or a raising of the bar. I just hardly think a star on a chart is tantamount to the end of civilized child-rearing. In fact, I’ve seen it work with great success in my own family.

        Am I missing something?

  10. jim says:

    I’m 43 and my brother’s 42. We fought fiercely until about ten years ago, when he got a job in my industry. We both test software for a living now, and amazingly our relationship has become much more about our common traits than about our differences. I wonder if it’s possible for parents to help steer their battling children a little bit more towards those common traits. Maybe Pokemon can help.

  11. Amy says:

    I don’t have kids so I can’t really relate to all of this. But I do have a mom. Seems like you are a great one. I better call my mom and say thanks.

    Amy Parmenter

    p.s. I stopped fighting with my brother when I realized he was getting stronger than me. (I remember the wrestling match like it was yesterday – I thought uh-oh). And, as any good sister would do, from that point forward I just pretended I was too mature to wrestle. So any time he would say Ame — let’s wrestle! I would say ‘you’re so immature!’. It was brilliant! :0)

  12. Corey Tyhurst says:

    From my experience as an older brother, the brothers will stop fighting when one of them moves out of the house. Then they will be almost best friends.

    Net: Get prepared for a solid tenure of “brotherly love”.

  13. Brian King says:

    Right on Penelope. My three spectrum sons are all picky eaters and whereas every self proclaimed, armchair parenting expert tells me to make them eat vegetables etc, their doctor repeatedly tells me to let them eat what they want and they’ll get what they need. The doctor also says none of the boys are malnourished.

    Keep bringing the wisdom and the validation : )

    • KateNonymous says:

      My brother went through a phase where all he would eat was hot dogs, orange juice, and Hershey bars. My mother was worried, but our pediatrician told her to let it go–that making a fuss over it would just make him dig in his heels.

      Sure enough, eventually he outgrew it and now eats just about anything.

  14. Erika says:

    Sounds like a good day! The Working Mother article about morning routines and getting “quality” time in with the kids before work made me want to throw up. Quality to me at this point is me not yelling at anyone and keeping the morning lighthearted rather than an angry race against the clock. For me, too, the good days are outnumbering the bad, and it’s taken us almost a year.

    • Penelope Trunk says:

      I know! I linked to it because it was so insipid. Sometimes I want to scream when I read stuff like that. But linking to cloying parenting drivel so everyone can roll their eyes feels almost as good as screaming.

      Penelope

  15. Perry Neal says:

    I’m a software developer and there’s a fairly new philosophy surrounding software development called “agile”. It’s a series of processes and principles to help the process of software development adapt to change (which is inherent in the craft).

    A while back an “agile” developer decided he could apply the principles and processes to his family. Here’s the link to that presentation: http://www.pluralsight-training.net/community/blogs/starr/archive/2009/08/31/code-cast-31-agile-for-families.aspx.

    Regards and keep up the good work!

  16. Scott Pullins says:

    My wife and I have had good luck with making either triple/quadruple batches of waffles, pumpkin pancakes, regular pancakes etc. on the weekend, eating what we want and then freezing the rest for use on school day mornings. You can pull the homemade waffles/pancakes out of the freezer, microwave them and the syrup in just a few minutes on school days.

    It works with my extremely picky daughter. That or feeding her hot dogs and macaroni and cheese for breakfast.

  17. Chris says:

    Love it. And oy, ignore anyone who tells you you got “this one wrong” or whatever. They’re your kids. No one, no one, is an expert on parenting.

  18. Steve C says:

    KIDS + MORNINGS = DAILY INSANITY! 4 kids here in my household, ages 11, 10, 8 and 7. I can SOOOOO identify with everything you’ve written about morning routines. Love the “adult beverage” suggestion!

    side note – I’m now 3 full months unemployed after leaving the company I worked at for 21 years. I am home-schooling my 11 year old daughter and (kind-of) looking for a new job. “Penelope Trunk’s” has helped me keep a sense of humor about the situation I’m in (basically feeling like I’ve got absolutely nothing in common with all the friends and acquaintances I left behind in corporate-never-never land).

    Thank you.

  19. Ann says:

    I think video games are quite educational as motivators. My younger son decided to learn to read because his evil mother kept saying, “If you want to know what they are saying on the video game screen, I guess you will have to learn to read.”

    Pokemon = math. Kids pretend they can’t understand math concepts until money or toys are involved. Then they are geniuses. I am a speech language pathologist as well as an evil mother and those motivators make learning seem not only fun, but necessary.

    I also love Captain Underpants because those guys use some of the best figurative language in kid’s literature. If your kid understands most of the in-jokes in Captain Underpants, they have great language skills.

    Don’t tell any kids about this! I don’t want to ruin their fun!

  20. mamabear says:

    Thank you. This helps me. I had a visual chart for my son with sensory issues, but I gave it up for some reason (I guess when he stopped being infatuated with it.) I think I’ll try to go back to it and see if it helps me yell less in the mornings.

    I followed one of your links and briefly considered forming a wine-in-the-morning habit, but that would probably be a slippery slope for me, as I am definitely not the type to NOT have a corkscrew in my house – in fact, I have an electric corkscrew. :)

  21. P.F. Jennings says:

    About reinforcing good behavior . . .

    I saw something, quite a while ago, but I think it was correct.

    It said (more or less) that giving rewards or ‘attaboys’ for good behavior *regularly* meant the person would come to expect the reward or attaboy. And it would lose value, over time. Until its only value would be in the negative — (if it didn’t appear, complaints would ensue).

    It said that what works better is random good surprises or attaboys. At odd moments, on the spur of the moment, whatever.

    Something to consider.

  22. Socorro Luna says:

    Only you can devise a plan that works for you and the boys. I commend you. I will be sending this post on to friends with children with Asperger’s. You are a genius in your observations. Next, you are an inspiration. Keep up with the writing. You are precious.

  23. Mel says:

    I don’t have Asperger’s and neither does my daughter, but boy could I see a lot of our routine in yours here! maybe we are all more similar than different? it is better now that she is older (13) – except for occasional Linda Blair Exorcist hormonal moments. so I will tell you that there is hope that it gets better as they get older. Hang in there!

  24. L says:

    Once I camped next to a large family with a 10-year-old who wailed “Mom! I have to throw up!” and the mother replied “Okay, go throw up and come back, honey.” I thought it was hilarious, and an excellent way to handle it, but then I don’t have any kids.

  25. Anna Redgate says:

    Great blog, very funny, smart and wise to trust our own advice.

    On Gen. Z: Just wait till yours discover XBox Live! My son plays with kids all over the world. It may help our relation with China someday when they figure out they were playing Halo together.

    Cheers, Anna

  26. Ann says:

    L,

    By the time they are 10, you are thrilled that they tell you and they can walk themselves over to a place that does not involve property cleanup.

  27. ElanaK says:

    Penelope, get a grip! Of course you can tell your children “clean it up” (or use the trash can) in public. It’s taken me thirty years of meditation practice to get that measure of non-judgmental, casual practicality. Well done! You deserve a (insert reward of choice!)

    P.S. the problem with drinking during the morning rush is that it then becomes ineffective during the supper/homework/bath and bed rush. Besides the Farmer probably would appreciate the hugs.

  28. neko says:

    Pic of Junior eating oatmeal out on the porch wearing his shades & surrounded by a gaggle of kittens = PRICELESS.

  29. KD says:

    Penelope,

    No annual 9/11 reflection post this year?

    KD

    • Penelope Trunk says:

      I thought I’d take a break. I actually think that moving to the farm, and focusing so much on family is completely related to my experience at the World Trade Center. But I’m too in the middle of that to write about it. I’ll write next year…

      Meanwhile, for those who don’t know, there is an archive of posts about my day at the World Trade Center when it fell, and the aftermath for me. Look on the sidebar of the blog — World Trade Center is a category.

      Penelop

    • Penelope Trunk says:

      I thought I’d take a break. I actually think that moving to the farm, and focusing so much on family is completely related to my experience at the World Trade Center. But I’m too in the middle of that to write about it. I’ll write next year…

      Meanwhile, for those who don’t know, there is an archive of posts about my day at the World Trade Center when it fell, and the aftermath for me. Look on the sidebar of the blog — World Trade Center is a category.

      Penelope

  30. Lisa L says:

    I loved Pokemon as a kid and am now pursuing a Ph.D in Chemical Engineering. I think it taught me to be methodical and to not give up on my goals, like transforming Magikarp, the suckiest pokemon, into Gyrados, one of the best – a feat that also required teamwork and management from my fighting team of Pokemon. This is almost too geeky to admit, but I met my first boyfriend at a Pokemon tournament, so it was good for socialization as well…

  31. anonymous coward says:

    COOL!!!! There’s another aspie who can vomit on demand? I thought I was the only one.

    Vomiting on demand is an enviable skill, it can help him make it through grade school intact and if he plays his cards right, even somewhat popular. There is nothing that makes a fourth or fifth grader more popular than being able to vomit at will on the school yard bully’s shoes! Managed well, it’s even a source of income.

    Unlike your son tho, I was smart enough to never tell my parents, nor to make it obvious.

  32. Grace says:

    My son doesn’t give a hoot about school, but he is obsessed with Pokemon Platinum. So, all summer, his grandpa and I were trying to do extra school work with him, using his DS as a reward. It failed miserably as my son just got really stressed out.
    Then I spent some time watching my son on his DS games and on the net. He’s making snap decisions, doing quick math calculations, strategizing. He’s going so fast that I can’t even keep up. His brain is wired differently than mine which was a worry at first, but then I realized that all kids his age are wired differently and therefore when they are adults, the world will be a different place. He will be just fine.

    • Penelope Trunk says:

      I’m really fascinated by how the kids are thinking when they’re playing these games. Like you, Grace, I absolutely can’t keep up with my kids when they are going through the Pokemon stuff. It’s a different language and a different way to think. But I know that the strategizing they do, and the planning days in advance for what they will do with a character that only evolves on Sundays — that is stuff I wish I had been taught in school, because it’s essential for adult life.

      Penelope

      • Erika says:

        I have two girls, 4 & 6. Maybe they’re too young for video games, or maybe because they are girls, but I am wondering if they will get in to them at all. And if they don’t, will they be left behind somehow in Gen Z? How will non-gamers work with gamers?

    • Chuck says:

      You might want to find a great child psychologist and have an ADHD evaluation done, or maybe check out the books Driven to Distraction and Delivered from Distraction.

  33. Grace says:

    As for our morning routine, my kids have to get everything ready the night before (clothes picked out, breakfast and lunch decided upon, backpacks emptied, homework done and forms signed, etc.) If they don’t get everything ready or chosen by 8pm, then they don’t get to watch their beloved bedtime t.v. show. In my house, I can’t come up with a reward that is immediate enough to motivate (stickers haven’t worked), and in the morning, nobody cares anyway because they know I will do or promise almost anything to get them out the door. Electronics are the currency of my kids and denying access (with clear expectations and plenty of warning) seems to get their attention.

  34. Alesya says:

    My Mom famously streamlined our morning after my sister and I fought over what to have for breakfast each and every morning. Mondays and Wednesdays were cereal days. Thursday and Tuesday were toast days because these days started with T’s. Friday? The very exciting “Choose Day” where you could have either cereal OR toast.

  35. Margaret Goerig says:

    Nice title on this post. It doesn’t try to mold the advice to everyone, which actually, I think makes the advice more accessible to everyone. Even the non-moms : )

  36. skywind says:

    LOVE the little black kittens. And the boots. And the shades.

  37. Melissa says:

    I am absolutely in awe of working mothers! Just getting myself to the gym before work in the morning is a hassle and I feel like I have no spare time. Great non-traditional parenting advice, I’m keeping these little nuggets in my head for when I have kids some day.

  38. Sara says:

    I get what you mean about video games. My 4 yr old can play the shit out of any game system you put in front of him, and you know what, he’s also the one that taught me how to take screen captures with my iphone.

  39. MaLo says:

    I fought really hard with my older brother until he was sent to boarding school and then we missed each other too much during the week to waste our time fighting during the weekends.

    Yep, kids (and adults!) need fat (preferably butter) and meat! So you’re all good on that ;)

  40. Michael says:

    Pen,
    I don’t miss it because I wasn’t there for the morning rush even though I was like one of the kids but out of the house first because I would have been mean as far as they were concerned.

    Thanks for the memories and a look at what it would have been like if we made our kids in this era.

    We had our third last child when I was 26 and my wife was 25 now at 56 where’s that RV we’re supposed to be touring the country in?

  41. Susan Ashely says:

    Very cute, enjoyable and informative article filled with good ideas!
    Susan Ashley author of The Asperger’s Answer Book: Professional Answers to the Top 300 Questions Parents Ask

  42. Jonathan Gladstone says:

    LOL… we also have two boys, now 15 & 13. They never stop fighting, but they seem to kind of enjoy it. In our case, the younger one eggs on the older one (easy to do) so that the older one finally teaches some martial arts by example. This actually works well – they get their yayas out and find a way to get along, and I feel like we’re getting extra value out of the money we’ve spent on martial arts lessons for our older boy. And they both seem to understand our expectation of no lasting or evident damage; that kind of restraint may serve them well later in life.

    • Penelope Trunk says:

      Jonathan, I think you have just given me the best parenting advice ever: Make the kids understand there can be no lasting or evident damage. Thanks.

      Penelope

      • Jonathan Gladstone says:

        We’ve based a lot of our parenting on two main principles: keep ‘em healthy, and raise good citizens. That means the Golden Rule plays a big part in our house, along with eating a healthy and varied diet and being careful about how we do stupid things. For example, we insisted on swimming lessons and downhill skiing lessons since we live in snowy, watery Ontario. And we insist on safety belts in cars and helmets on bikes, and we wear goggles and follow safety protocols when we shoot pellet or paintball guns or play with fire and fireworks.

        Shana tovah, v’gmar chatimah tovah!

  43. griffiths says:

    The farmer may eat hamburger for breakfast but it is the vegetarian that will live longer and be generally less prone to illness

    • Sara says:

      A fascinating paper published in the journal Mechanisms of Aging and Development presents an entirely new theory to explain why vegetarians do not live longer. It turns out that those who avoid eating beef suffer a deficiency of a nutrient (carnosine) that is critical to preventing lethal glycation reactions in the body.

      Hipkiss AR. Glycation, ageing and carnosine: Are carnivorous diets beneficial? Mech Ageing Dev. 2005 Oct;126(10):1034-9.

  44. JHenderson says:

    I’m very impressed with your organization and patience, especially since you have noted previously that these traits do not come naturally to you. Way to rock it!

  45. Andrew says:

    Apparently oatmeal is pretty popular with your cats :-).

  46. Pete says:

    Whilst I don’t have kids I have trouble enough dragging myself through the morning, so my latest strategy is to try and abolish my mornings altogether! Unfortunately this doesn’t involve getting up in the afternoon…
    http://petejamescollins.wordpress.com/2010/09/13/getting-rid-of-mornings/

  47. sheltie mama says:

    Your kids will stop fighting when..
    1. You start modeling co-operative pleasant behavior and
    2. You stop allowing it. While no one can force other people get along; as a parent, you can demand what manifest behavior is allowed (no hitting, no name calling, no put downs)

  48. Cindy says:

    You make me smile so big!!

    good for you!

  49. Kari Ann Hong says:

    I struggle getting my kids to eat well too. My kids ate gummy fruit snacks for dinner tonight because they didn’t want to eat the dinner my father made them.

  50. James Fowlkes says:

    Having 1 and 3 year old girls I feel your pain. And we haven’t even started school yet. Anyway, just wanted to say that I absolutely love reading your stuff and congrats on the recent nuptials! Thanks for sharing your stories here, Penelope!

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