Monday, February 13, 2012

Operation Be My Valentine

The week before last I promised to devote myself, and by extension, this blog to love. Specifically, I wanted to focus on all the ways I could be more loving to the people in my life. This seems like a fitting goal for February, the month of hearts, cupids and flowers.

In Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project she focuses on her habit of nagging. I thought about this for a long time and realized that, whatever you might say about me, I'm not a nagger. In fact I'm the opposite of a nagger.

I'm a Not-listener. Which, as I considered it, seems like the unacknowledged step-child of nagging.

We don't have a tidy little phrase for the Not-listener but I would guess that Not-listening is just as pervasive as nagging. I'm careful to say Not-listening because it's something completely different than ignoring. Not-listening is the phenomonen where, in good Carol Brady style, when my husband arrives home from work I say,"Hi honey, how was your day?" 

And the moment he begins to answer I stop listening. It's not that I don't want to listen. My intentions are always good, but while my husband is telling me about the details of his day, any of the following things can be happening (and usually three of them are happening simultaneously).

1. Anywhere from two to five children are sliding down the basement stairs on pillows, shrieking with the kind of delight that is the verbal foreshadowing of injury.

2. My cell phone is pinging with texts, emails, tweets and DMs.

3. Someone can't find a sock.

4. Somewhere in the house, something is burning.

5. My mother is calling the house phone, then my cell phone, then my husband's phone, then texting.

6. I've just noticed someone has tracked peanut butter from the breakfast room all the way to the hall.

7. Someone is injured (see item #1).

8. It's occuring to me that decorations for Halloween/Thanksgiving/Hannukah/Christmas/Valentine's Day/Birthdays/St Patrick's Day/Passover/Easter/Fourth of Freaking July need to be either put up or taken down.

9. The doorbell is ringing and people are wanting me to sign a petition, buy a magazine or wondering whether Child #1 or #2 can play.

10. Someone is running through the house without pants, giggling wildly.

Okay, I confess to being the main offender in item #10. But in spite of this list, I started to wonder if there wasn't some way I could do a better job of listening.

If I manage to listen and respond to my children, friends, blogger buddies and the small village that follows me on G+, it seems like I should be able to do the same thing for the man I married.


Stop by on Wednesday for the full scoop on operation "Be My Valentine"

Friday, February 10, 2012

Ten Things I Know at Ten.

February 11 is Child #1's tenth birthday and here are a sampling of the things I've learned in the ten years since she entered my life.

1. This is the cutest baby Christmas card picture ever taken in the history of the world. And it underscores an important fact about Child #1.

2. Which is that she's a New Yorker. If I had known what that meant before she was born I might have arranged to give birth across state lines. In New Jersey or Conneticut perhaps, because Child #1 is:

3. Fierce. Unstoppable. A Force of Nature.

4. Which are amazing qualities to have, unless you happen to be the parent of someone with those qualities. I don't mind too much because I know that someday Child #1 will be, well, whatever she wants to be. If you don't believe me, just try standing in her way.

5. I know Child #1 will never want for money. This fact is born out by the abundance of one dollar bills shoved into her purple Wildlife Safari wallet and her reluctance to part with ANY of them.

6. Or candy. She's one of the only kids I know who is completely Atkinesque in her dietary choices. Rare steak and bacon, yes please. Noodles or Nerds, how disgusting!

7.  I also know that someday Child #1 will grow up and get married, or she won't. Whatever she decides she'll be the one in control because according to her, "Boys are good as long as they're under control. That's what I'm good at, keeping them under control."

8. At her first date, wedding, commitment ceremony or future gig as a dominatrix she'll wear something amazing.

9. None of her friends will be annoyed by her innate and infallible sense of style because they will have been longterm beneficiaries of Item # 3 above. Don't mess with her friends. She'll break your knees or argue with you until you want to break your own knees.

10. She still adores her brother, plays with legos, makes up stories about Pygmy Puffs, turns cartwheels instead of walking, laughs until she falls out of her chair, mispronounces big words and kinda, sorta believes in Santa Claus. I know the days for this kind of silly, wonderful behavior are numbered, so I'm making a point to treasure every one.

Happy Tenth Birthday Child #1

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A Rose by Any Other Name

I've had names on the brain lately. Maybe it's because I just wrote a short story where the main character's name is Maisy. Maybe it's because names are something I struggle with (but you already guessed that when you read what I named my poor MC).

Whatever the reason, it seems I'm not alone in my struggle with the name game. In the last two weeks I've read no less than four different blog posts about people struggling to name both babies and characters.

My name is the subject of rampant mispronuciation. A colleague and friend of mine once called me YoHannah for an entire year before I corrected her.

"You know it's actually Johanna, like Joe and hanna put together," I said after she'd used the Swedish version once too often in casual conversation.

"No," she gasped. "I didn't know. Why didn't you tell me?"

"I always thought you were joking."

And this little exchange underscores the problem with names. Too exotic and you risk sentencing your child or main character to a lifetime of correcting people's pronunciation. Too boring and you risk them having to differentiate themselves with a last initial.

But back to the intial thought. Why is it so difficult to pick names and how important is a name.

Or more precisely, does the person make the name or does the name make the person? Watching Madonna perform in the Superbowl this weekend, I realized that until she stepped into the spotlight with her lace gloves and crosses, the only other Madonna I knew was the religious variety.

Would Madonna, as we know her, have become an icon if she'd chosen a different name?

I think the answer is yes.

Maybe the true power of a name doesn't lie in its combination of verbs and consonants but in the person behind it. I'll take comfort in that thought every time my daughter rolls her eyes at her own name (so carefully selected, so clearly despised).

And on a final side note to the many, many slightly stoned men in bars who have asked me whether I'm familiar with the Bob Dylan song that features my name in a title role.

Yes, I do know that song.

But wait! Just because I know it and was, in fact, named after it doesn't give me automatic hippie cred. If you're looking for someone to hit on you should probably go find my mother. After all, she's the one who picked the name in the first place. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

A Day in the Life

Last Friday my kids were out of school, no sickness, just one of the ubiquitous teacher planning days that sprinkle the calendar this time of year.

I had a bee in my bonnet that Child #1 needed new sneakers. We went to our favorite Hawthorne district shoe store where, to everyone's dismay, we learned her favorite sneaker maker had gone out of business. Child #1 loudly bemoaned this fact while Child #2 began to writhe underneath tables and knock over boxes of shoes.

I glanced at the well-behaved toddlers playing in the front of the store and then back at my own children and came to a decision. Child #1 wasn't going to get new shoes. The children were hustled back into the car where they proceeded to ennumerate all the ways they hadn't done anything wrong. I modeled mature adult problem-solving skills by refusing to speak to them.

My speechlessness and mature behavior lasted through our trip to the library. I checked out books and pretended the two children begging me to speak were not, in fact, my own. After the library I took pity on them and we went to the park.

The park was outside the twenty block sphere that contains our life. It's old-fashioned. The kind with real swings and a merry-go-round (a.k.a. Skull Crusher). I watched them jumping on and off, surfing with their eyes shut and gave my best impression of not being THAT mom. You know, the kind who shrieks warnings and mentally calculates whether, if someone slips off and rolls under the merry-go-round, it will in fact, crush their skull.

On the way home I remembered a shoe store in the neighborhood. On a hunch, I made the nine block detour and was rewarded by a sale sign in the window. Inside were the perfect boots, on sale and my size. Child #1 took charge. "Do you like these boots, mom?" she asked pushing her little fingers into the toe to judge whether I had room to grow.

"I love them."

"I think I'm going to buy them for you."

"Do you have any money?" I asked her.

"Yes," she pulled a quarter out of her pocket.

"You'll have better luck with this," I said and handed her my credit card.

It was at that moment I realized we'd come full circle. Mother, daughter, daughter, mother, sometimes there's very little difference. And of course, I wore my new boots out of the store. Because that's what you do when you're nine...or forty.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Happy 40th Birthday Rick Hardy!

There I was, trying to think about ways to do a better job loving my loved ones (being more Lovey and less Bitey penguin) when I remembered my dear friend Birdie asked me to send a fortieth birthday card to her husband and I forgot.

Here's the birthday boy! That's not his kid or his cow.
Let me tell you a little bit about Birdie. She's the kind of person who regularly inspires me.

In any moral quandry all I have to do is channel Birdie, what would Birdie do or WWBD and invariably, her wisdom leads me to the right decision. She's the kind of person who effortlessly makes me think about the eventual resting place of the little plastic baggies I used to use in Child 1 and 2's lunch boxes and many other important things like volunteerism, community, kindness and respect.

And lest I'm starting to make her sound like a drag, I should add she does all of this without ever prostelytizing or making me feel guilty. She leads by example and I'm happy to follow because my friendship with Birdie fills my soul and makes me a better person.

So here's a little hypothetical for you, if I asked Birdie to send my husband a birthday card for his fortieth birthday what do you think she would do or WWBD? One thing is certain. She would not say to herself, "Yes, that's a great idea," and then forget about it completely until the day after said birthday had passed.

There are a few women in my life who I refer to as my sister wives. Birdie, as I'm sure you've guessed, is a founding member of this group. And I use the word group, lightly. We don't live on a compound and only wear our hair in braids on occasion, and ironically.
I should probably add we hardly ever wear matching clothes.

But we have made dinners for each other, held each other's hands during the toddler years, had our children throw up in each other's cars  and shared way more about the intimate details of our respective marriages than any of the brother husbands would like.

And there you have it.

For better or worse, our husbands (or brother husbands as we refer to them) have been dragged into the whole Big Love analogy.
Brother husbands playing blindfolded water gun war against their offspring.

The brother husband in question today, husband to Birdie, father of two, builder of cool backyard treehouses, assistant soccer coach, maker of the world's best gin and tonic, and hopefully good sport about being featured on a blog, has just turned forty!

Although I oopsed on the fortieth birthday card maybe this blog post will make up for it! After all, according to the sister wives, I'm on an authorial path to worldwide domination of the print industry. Surely a few of my readers will be more than happy to send a little love in the direction of my favorite Minnesota brother husband! And for added insurance, I'll spend a chunk of my day tweeting, G+ing and blogging the message to make sure it gets out!

Happy 40th Birthday Rick Hardy!!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Proof of Love

It's February and it's time to get back to my Fulfillment Project. Remember, the one based on Gretchen Rubin's Happiness Project where I try to make my pretty good life better.

The other night we had family movie night. There was a bit of a tussle about what to watch but we finally settled on Mr. Popper's Penguins. And even though I hated the book (I know, I know, the rest of you loved it, there's something wrong with me) I LOVED this movie. In fact, not being a fan of the book or Jim Carrey, it took me by surprise how much I loved this movie. Child #1 and I laughed so hard we almost fell off the couch, which was perfect for the laugh more part of my project.

After the movie was over the kids asked the standard question. "Mom, if you had to choose, which penguin would you be?"

"That's easy," I said. "I'd be Lovey Penguin." And it was easy at that moment when we were all snuggled up under a blanket.

The next morning Child #2 decided to pretend to be Loudy Penguin. He came to my side of the bed before the sun was up and squawked, LOUDLY in my ear, which is the point, I guess, of being Loudy Penguin.

My regular readers know I'm, well, not what you'd call a morning person. My reaction to Child #2's Loudy Penguin impression was not in character with Lovey Penguin. In fact, for the next hour and a half I was definitely Bitey Penguin.

As I stopped to think about it I realized that, even though I like to say I'm Lovey Penguin, the sad truth is more often than not, I'm Bitey.

And here we are, in February, the month known for hearts, cupids and Lovey Penguins. I've decided this will be my month to make an effort to be less Bitey and more Lovey. It will be difficult. This is something I know for sure. Juggling homework, piano, swimming, choir, writing, chess club, book club, social networking, playdates, Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts and a second book on the way is enough to make anyone Bitey. Be that as it may, I'm striving for Lovey!

And I've got a plan. Stop by on Friday to read about phase one of Operation Lovey Penguin.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Hopes and Dreams

The other day I met with someone who can be vaguely placed in the category of "children's education professional." During the course of the conversation this person asked me, "What are your hopes and dreams for your daughter?"

It was the variety of question that made me bite my tongue. Bite my tongue hard!

The possible responses that I forced myself not to say were, "We're hoping she'll be crowned Homecoming Queen and then maybe marry a nice banker," or "We dream of her winning the Nobel prize," or "If the kid doesn't get into Princeton, that's it! She's dead to us."

Seriously, what kind of question is that?

If you were to ask me about my own hopes and dreams I could describe them to you, in more detail than you would want to hear. I'm me and I have a pretty good grasp on what's important to me. As for my children, they are not me. Although I love them desperately and too much, I recognize the physical barrier. We are not the same person. They are distinct people, becoming more so every day, with their own ideas, goals, dreams and viewpoints.

I suppose my response to this breed of question is not so much a response to the question, as to the underlying ick factor. To me, it seems like an invitation to aggrandize the little people who will live in my house for the next ten or eleven years. It invites me to live vicariously through them, burdening them with all "my hopes and dreams."

That's not the kind of parent I want to be. That's not the kind of person I want to be.

As for Child #1, she is her own person with her own set of hopes and dreams. Right now she's hoping and dreaming of becoming the next Coco Chanel. Who am I to stand in her way? Quite frankly, anyone who gets in her way risks being mowed over by the ocean freighter that is my daughter's determination.

As for my hopes and dreams for her, here they are:

I hope she grows up to be happy and fulfilled without becoming a burden to society. Anything more and I risk my own ideals of what it means to be a parent. Anything less and I haven't done my job.

Friday, January 27, 2012


Thanks to everyone who stopped by to check out the Share our Stories program! I'm excited about it and I'm glad you are too.

Now back to sleep. I mean, talking about sleep.

In between Monday and today I had time to do a little research about sleep. Did you know that the CDC (that's Center for Disease Control for those of you who don't harbor mild paranoia about bird flu and other infectious diseases) maintains a page dedicated to sleep.

Apparently insufficient sleep is considered a disease!

Insufficient sleep is linked to automobile accidents. Driving sleep-deprived is almost as dangerous as driving drunk. Not getting enough sleep is also linked to diseases like depression, diabetes and obesity.

According to the CDC adults need 7-9 hours of sleep. Kids under the age of ten need 10-11 hours of sleep and teens need 8.5-9.5 hours. Even if I wasn't shocked by kids over the age of ten being included in the teens group (what!?! does that mean I almost have a teenager?) that information was still enough to shock, surprise and make me seriously question whether my family gets enough sleep.

Now (confession time) I'm at my best when I get a full nine hours of sleep. But it doesn't happen all that often. Mostly because nine hours of sleep doesn't leave a lot of time to do anything else. To my point, I need to be ASLEEP by ten o'clock every night in order to get my required nine hours.

But I promised I would try. And so I did. Here's what's happened so far:

Monday: Turned off the light at 10:20 because I was trying to finish a chapter of The Illumination. Pretty sure I was asleep by 10:30 which was good. Eight and 1/2 hours good!

Tuesday: Those Eight and 1/2 hours left me supercharged. I bounced through the day. Book club that evening + a couple of glasses of wine meant I didn't get home until 10:30.

Of course I was too wound up to go to sleep until I talked to my husband for an hour. And then, even after I'd exhausted his patience for listening to book club gossip and what happened on Twitter, I was still full of energy. Which meant I was up late. Way too late.

Wednesday:  I went to bed by 10:30 and was asleep instantly thanks to my late night on Tuesday. Unfortunately the early bedtime backfired.
At 2:00 am I woke up and remembered something I'd forgotten to do. Which meant I had to get up, turn on the lights and address it.

Big no-no! Sleep experts say you should not wander around your house in the middle of the night turning on lights and completing forgotten chores.

Thursday: I don't know yet. If I've learned anything this week, it's that I should NOT promise to get up at 2:00 am to check in and let you know how it's going. Maybe sleep is a pattern and I'll be back to Eight and 1/2 hour Tuesday, supercharged and ready to go.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Shared A Good Book Lately?

Have you heard about the Amazon Prime lending program?

It works like this. Say, for example, you buy a copy of Losing Beauty, read it and recommend it to a friend. In this example your friend also has a Kindle. You can then, with a click of a button, lend Losing Beauty to your friend. From that point on the friend has fourteen days to read it (anecdotal evidence leads me to believe most readers of Losing Beauty take about three days to finish so fourteen days could almost be called excessive) ;) At the end of the fourteen days the book is returned to you, voila! So simple!!

This new lending program is Amazon's attempt to make books on people's ereaders as lendable as the ones on their shelves. Which, in my opinion, is very cool.

If you want to lend a book that you've purchased here's how to do it in four easy steps:

1. Go to the Amazon site and visit the page of the book you'd like to lend. At the top of the page you will see the following text, "Loan this book to anyone you choose."

2. Click on the "Loan this book" link. It will take you to the loan page.

3. Enter the email of the person to whom you wish to lend it. (It must be the email that their reading device is registered to: Kindle, Ipad, Iphone, etc).

4. Add a personal message if you like, and hit Send Now.

That's it!

As an author, it might seem odd that I'm encouraging you to lend my book, free of charge to other readers. But the funny thing about authors is we are readers first. I am a frequent visitor to my public library and rejoice *happy dance, sing, jump up and down* every time I hear Losing Beauty is in a library.

My goal as a writer is to connect with readers. Plain and simple. Amazon's lending program is a huge step in that direction. So read, readers, read!

P.S. I know about this open group on Facebook where lots of authors are happy to lend out their books.!/groups/276783892383174/

P.P.S. You might even find me there too!

Monday, January 23, 2012

To Sleep or Not to Sleep?

After the success of my initial energy boosting project I thought I'd tackle something new. After all, eating less sugar had given me a boost of energy so why not? The first thing I did was think about some of our other household rules. The kind of rules designed to make my children bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and ready to take on the world.

The first one that came to mind was sleep.

Even though I had little to no experience with children until I had my own, it didn't take long to figure out the importance of sleep.

 In fact, I learned my lesson so well I became a bit of a sleep Nazi. When the kids were babies, if we missed their ridiculously early bedtime by more than twenty minutes I would start to hyperventilate. Past experience had taught me the loss of those twenty minutes would provide an endless round of tired-tantrums, malaise and general unpleasantness the coming day.

Almost ten years into the business of being a parent and I've relaxed a little bit. Part of the reason is because the hair triggers that were my small sleep-deprived children, have grown older. They can handle less sleep. The other part of the reason is they sleep in. It's bliss! It's delight. They Sleep In!!

Their ability to sleep-in has allowed me to ease back into my preferred sleep pattern. In an ideal world I would stay up late and sleep in until about noon. Since no world is 100% ideal I've met it halfway.

Slowly, my bedtime has crept later and later. There are just so many books to read, conversations to have, movies to see and thoughts to think. It's hard to give all that up in favor of a few extra hours of sleep.

But what if I did? What if I forced myself to pick one evening activity (instead of all of them) and then get to bed in time to make sure I got plenty of sleep. Would I get my mornings back? Would I find myself able to respond in intelligible sentences to parents I see each morning at the kid's school?

Maybe I wouldn't gear up for the day at noon.  It's ridiculous! Who is at their best at noon? Crazy people who practically need an IV injection of caffeine to get their brains up and running, that's who!

So I'm going to try it. We'll see what happens. Maybe I'll lie in bed for hours and write blog posts in my head. Or maybe, I'll wake up early and write them for real. Before noon! Now that really would be something to blog about!

Friday, January 20, 2012

A Stalker's Tale

Someone sent me an email the other day. There's nothing strange about that. I get LOTS of emails, as I'm sure do you. I'll get to what was strange later, but first let me tell you about the purpose of the email. It announced that January is National Stalking Awareness Month.

The email came with lots of helpful facts about stalking such as the amount of states that have anti-stalking laws (50), a reminder that 1/3 of stalkers have stalked before and, most interestingly, that 1 in 4 victims report being stalked through the usage of some form of technology.

This was all good. I mean, good to know, bad when it happens. The email then asked if I would consider doing something (anything) to help get the word out about stalking awarness month. And then, before I could delete it I got another email from the same email address.

That's odd, I thought but, you know, maybe someone just clicked send twice. I didn't think about it too much until I received another exhortation to consider supporting National Stalking Awareness Month via Twitter. And then another. After that I got two more emails on my personal account followed by a message on Facebook.

The question was obvious. Was I being stalked by the National Stalking Awareness Campaign?

I'm a writer. More specifically, a fiction writer, which means my brain takes miniscule pieces of information and extracts them into whole novels. My brain did not like the above question. In fact, it was the kind of question that had the power to (of course this is all theoretical) make my brain wake up at the sound of a car door in the middle of the night. I might have shaken my husband awake with  every husband's favorite 2:00 AM question. "Honey, who is that parked in our driveway!?"

In this hypothetical scenario he might have searched for his glasses, peered out the window and snapped, "That's the guy who delivers the newspaper."

"Yes, but he's parked. What do you think he's doing out there?"

"I'm going back to sleep."
It's true, when I think about it, that I receive a similar volume of mail (snail and e) from other organizations like Netflix and Boden and not once have I ever associated them with stalking.  And it's also true that I support the Stalking Awareness campaign's cause, in much the same way I would support the anti-murder and anti-theft cause, if those causes exist.

 In fact, I'm so anti-stalking that I decided to write this post to promote January as National Stalking Awareness month. I mean, just in case the people in charge show up on my doorstep to ask me again, or sit outside my house in a dark car, or monitor my telephone calls, or get the guy who delivers our newspaper to watch our house in the middle of the night, or...well, you get the idea. But in case you don't I'll spell it out for you.

Stalking is bad. Don't do it.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Better: Is it your enemy?

I was talking with a friend last week, because in my search for laughter I've made more time to be spontaneous and talk with friends, and she mentioned something that made me think.

We were talking about schools. It was one of those conversations that is ENDLESSLY fascinating to parents and torture to anyone else. But in that conversation she said (and I hesitate to quote her because I know she reads my blog and I don't want to get it wrong but what the hell I think I'll take the chance), "Sometimes better is the enemy of good."
Turns out Voltaire said it first.
It bears repeating. Sometimes better is the enemy of good. I thought about this statement all weekend long, and not in the context of schools.

We are constantly encouraged to be better. It's not just writers or students or atheletes who suffer from this exhortation. It's everyone.

Wherever we go, whatever we do, we are told to give a little more, go a little harder, be a little better. Even this blog has been known (on occasion) to look for ways to make a pretty good life, even better.

But what happens when change is for the sake of change? Or to put it conversely, what if your need to be better holds you back from being good?

What's wrong with good?

Even though the comment was made in a conversation about kids and school, I couldn't help but apply it to my own life. Are there times when my need to be a better writer holds me back from being good?

A few months ago my daughter asked me if, Losing Beauty, my first novel, would win any literary prizes.

"Probably not," I told her.

"Does that mean it isn't very good?" she asked

"No, it's good but it's not prize-winning good. It's not that kind of book," I tried to explain. We were both silent for a moment and then I added "but that doesn't mean I won't write that kind of book some day. It just hasn't happened yet."

What I knew, but couldn't explain at the moment, is that if I refuse to publish something good, than I might not ever get to something even better.

So that's where I am right now. I'm doing the best work I can. Could it be better? Absolutely. Will I let that stop me from being good? No. Because, to come full circle, I don't think there's any way to get better without making a long stop at good.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Looking for Laughter in Portlandia

Last week I wrote about looking for laughter. Side-splitting, doubled-over, fall-off-your-chair, tears running down your face laughter.

It wasn't as easy as I hoped. Looking for genuine laughter is sort of like waiting for water to boil. It's not something you can force. While I was waiting to get my laugh on I decided to do some research. Here's what I discovered.

Kids in preschool, on average, laugh 400 times a day. Adults laugh, on average, 17 times a day.

What happens between age 4 and adulthood? Part of what happens is our senses of humor mature. Knock-knock jokes and farting aren't as funny to grown-ups as they are to kids. Umm, actually maybe I should've edited that last sentence so that it just included knock-knock jokes. Anyway, the point is, grown ups are more, well, grown up.

We're also busier. It takes time to laugh. And it takes time to put yourself in situations where you might find the funny.

My research turned up lots of opportunities to coerce laughter. I live in Portlandia, so along with organic free-range chickens, impossibly slow drivers and multi-tiered, complex recycling programs, we also have lots of self-awareness options.

There were things like laughter meditation, laugh therapy, laugh yoga and laughing clubs. While the idea of all these things made me smile I couldn't quite imagine myself attending a laughter yoga class.

Instead I focused on things closer to home, baby steps I could take while I was waiting for my pot of laughter to boil over. The first thing I did was make an effort to give myself more time to laugh. It seems counterintuitive, but I found the most effective way to do this was to clear my calendar. The freedom to accept last minute invitations, be spontaneous (while stressful to the neighborhood babysitters receiving frantic last minute texts) heightened my opportunity for laughter.

I also discovered that, while the kids and I might not laugh at the same things, they LOVE to see me laugh. In fact, my laughter is enough to make them drop whatever they are doing and come running to investigate.

If that isn't enough to make you smile then I'm almost certain the following video will make you laugh! Happy laugh day!