Today should have been my Dad’s 65th birthday. It blows my mind that we’re coming up on the 5th anniversary of his passing but I promise, this not a sad post.

Instead, it’s a post on all the things he made me do or did to me while I was growing up that I absolutely hated. You know what I’m talking about because you’re doing it to your kids right now. You make them do things that make them crazy and curse you under their breath.

And yes, your kids curse you under their breath.. stop kidding yourself.

But if you’re like me, you’re doing these things for the same reason my dad did them to me.. to teach my kids the important lessons about life.  And someday – if we’re lucky, they’ll let us know that all that Charlie Brown talking (wa-wah-wa-wah-wa-wah) worked and that THEY learned, too.

READ MORE: 20 Life Lessons I Want To Teach My Daughter

I only regret I didn’t tell him more often how those lessons actually sank in.

1. If you’re going to do it, do it right – I can’t tell you how many times I did something, thought I was finished and ready to cruise on to the important part of my day (playing) and was promptly sent back to do it over. Sometimes multiple times. It made me crazy and then somewhere along the way I realized that if I just did it really good the first time, I didn’t have to do it over. Shocking.

2. Flat tires don’t change themselves – I’ll never forget the summer before my senior year in high school when my dad called and woke me up from a typical teen slumber to tell me I had a flat tire and that I had better get out there and change it. I couldn’t believe it – how could he leave me like that? I didn’t know how to change a tire. So I did what anyone would do. I called my friend Marsh to help me. Only problem there is that he didn’t know how to change a tire either. So we learned together and got the tire changed. And I’ve never forgotten. Lesson – know the basic things to keep a car maintained.. changing the tire, checking the fluids, etc.

3. For every action, there’s an opposite action – This was the Margo Law of Motion. If you turn it on, turn it off. If you drop it, pick it up. If it breaks, fix it. If it’s dirty, clean it. Not only did he teach me but he did his best to teach my kids, too. I’m still working on teaching them that lesson but trust me – I repeat the Law of Motion multiple times a day.

READ MORE: Dear 16 Year Olds: Life Is Harsh And 5 Other Things You Need To Know

4. Stepping in dog crap is no fun – If you’re going to own an animal, you have to own ALL the animal. The good, fun stuff and the crappy stuff like picking up after it and scooping up the crap out of the front yard. Which I had to do twice a week before I mowed the grass. And yes, I learned the hard way to do it before I mowed. And it’s not just about dog crap. There are always jobs that suck. Just because they suck doesn’t mean you get out of doing them and you should still to do them well.

5. Your reputation and name are all that you have – And if you mess either of them up, it’s hard to come back from it. It really does take a lifetime to build a reputation and one stupid second to ruin it.  Don’t believe me? Look at the news. There are plenty of people doing it everywhere. I tell the girls all the time that you don’t ever want to be “that” girl at school. You know “that” girl and I know it sounds old-fashioned but think about it..  you don’t remember the rockstars from your graduating class nearly as much as you remember the ones who royally screwed up and did something scandalous  The other part of that lesson was if you tell someone you’re going to do something, you better do it. I can guarantee you that if I tell you that I’m going to do something, it’s as good as done. And if I can’t do it, I’m not going lie and tell you that I can. Not worth my name or my reputation.

6. Don’t lie, cheat or steal – The ONLY time that I was spanked when I was gowing up is when I lied. It didn’t happen very often but when I told a lie and got caught, I knew the consequences. So guess what? I don’t lie. Ever. Which may explain why I am usually TOO honest. I also have zero tolerance for people who lie and let’s not get into the cheating and stealing.

READ MORE: How To Teach Your Kids To Self-Motivate

7. You can play when your chores are done – My dad was one of the hardest working men that I have ever known in my life. He was at the office by 7am and when he got home, he put in at least another 3 hours around the house. While I don’t recommend working as much as my dad did (sadly, that’s pretty much how I remember my childhood), I firmly believe that you need to work before you can play. It sucks, but chores have to get done and then we can play. I don’t drive my kids as hard as my dad drove me but I still preach this to them.

My dad taught me so many more lessons and there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think of him and wish that he was still with us. But I know that he’s looking down on us and I hope that he’s proud that I DID learn and that I’m doing the best job that I can to instill the same values in my girls.

Happy Birthday to my Dad. We love you and miss you :)

This post was originally featured on Kristen’s blog, Four Hens and a Rooster. Photo via.

If one believes in cultural stereotypes, my birth should have been a day of mourning. I was the fourth girl born to traditional Indian parents. And because I was an overachieving student who started medical school at the age of 19, one may also assume that my immigrant parents were pushing, hovering tiger parents. Neither of these are true.

My birth was celebrated loudly and authoritarian tiger parents actually inhibit the achievement of their children. Unlike the fierce, competitive, and solitary tiger parent, or the permissive, directionless jellyfish parent; the dolphin parent is collaborative, authoritative (firm yet flexible), and has high expectations for their children. This leads to children with greater confidence, better social skills, and enhanced intrinsic motivation. My father was the ultimate dolphin parent and this father’s day I want to thank him for it.

Growing up, I was often embarrassed that my dad sometimes drove a taxi because I thought it was not “prestigious.” Ironically, it was during my research on motivation at the prestigious Harvard Medical School Addiction Research Program that I realized that much of what motivates me (and all people) comes from lessons I learned from him in that taxi. Here are some of them.

Having fun enhances the learning process. A universal truth is that we are motivated to learn in playful, joyful environments. The ability to complete any and every task is enhanced when we bring positive emotions into it. Many of today’s parents forget this truth or confuse “fun” with something trivial or requiring expensive lessons or experiences. My dad was playful and made driving around in a taxi, counting change for passengers, and doing math fun too.

Humans are motivated by curiosity. Albert Einstein once said, “I have no special talents: I am just passionately curious.” Curiosity is linked to our brain’s dopamine reward system and is the fuel that keeps self-motivation for learning going. My dad role modelled and guided me to be curious and ask questions about every person who sat in his back seat. Where did he/she come from? What language did they speak? What did they do for a living? When the search engine Google entered our lives, the era of needing to know the “right answer” left us. To be successful in our modern world, a child must learn how to ask the “right questions,” seek knowledge expansively, and apply that knowledge to diverse settings.

Bonding is a parent’s greatest tool. Bonding means knowing someone for who they really are, not for who you want them to be. It was in the front seat of his taxi, that I got to know my father and he got to know me. It was through our conversations that I discovered his hopes, dreams, and interests. It was through my observations of how he treated his passengers with the same level of respect whether they were high-profile politicians or intoxicated vagabonds, did I come to know his character and values. It was through my connection to him as a person, did I better appreciate his role as my father and his character and values continue to guide me to this day.

Gratitude and optimism are among the most powerful motivators. The most powerful aspect of being in my father’s taxi was witnessing his commitment to work hard not just for himself but to also “pay it forward.” While driving his taxi, it was not uncommon for my father to waive the fare for someone in need or bring home new immigrants who had just landed at the airport with no-where to go. My father was highly optimistic and had deep gratitude for the chance to have a better life. As witness to this, I became optimistic and grateful for my opportunities as well. The scientifically proven benefits of gratefulness are many, such as better sleep, less depression, less stress, better ability to cope with stress, and an improved sense of social relationships and happiness.

As the medical director for child and youth mental health for a culturally diverse city, I have come to realize that we humans are more similar than we are different. Parents would be wise to forget cultural stereotypes that hold us back. Regardless of one’s race, cultural group, or socioeconomic class, all humans are driven by joyfulness, connection, curiosity, optimism, gratitude, and purpose. These are universal human motivators and will guide all children towards their true potential. Thankfully, these traits can all be experienced in any setting — even the front seat of a taxi cab.

This post was originally featured on The Huffington Post

When I was 6 I was a bratty 1st grader. I played outside with the neighborhood kids, did my chores and tried not to kill my little sister. I was a kid, acted like a kid, thought like a kid. The only thing I worried about was what was for dinner and if my mom was going to make me take a bath. I was like most 6 year olds today, unless, that is, you’re talking about my 6 year old Sophia.

Sophia’s idea of fun is figuring out her next fundraiser. It’s thinking of ways to help people in her class, her school, our community and even around the world. At the age of 4 my husband and I helped her organize a fundraiser for a local non-profit charity called Zapatos Sin Fronteras (Shoes without Boarders). Sophia had seen something about helping people on TV and decided to take action. She asked my husband and me if we could find a local charity that helped kids. I went on a search for non-profits and found ZSF. I spoke with the founders and scheduled a meeting so that Sophia could explain what she wanted to do.

It just so happened that they were planning a mission to Mexico and Guatemala where they would be providing shoes and food to children in the rural mountain towns. That was it, this is what she wanted to do so the planning began. By that summer (she was now 5) it was time for the big bbq to take place. We wanted to make sure the word got out, we held an event on Facebook and let family and friends know. Someone even let the local newspaper know and she was interviewed for the front page. The article was called “Tribune Opinion: We could all follow in altruistic 5-year-old’s footsteps.” She rose over $500 that day.

This just ignited her love for helping people. Since then she’s grown out her hair and donated it to locks of love, has collected canned goods, jackets, you name it for those in need and is now donating boxes of goods to unit of soldiers stationed overseas for Christmas (that’s what she asked us for her present to be this year for Christmas).

This is why I wish I was more like my 6 year old. To have such a big heart, so many ideas and want to change the world at such a young age is bananas to me. Not to mention how unbelievably selfless she is. The girls got an old soul. I always tell her that I’m going to have to take a page from the Book of Sophia to try and be a better person. She always laughs and tells me she’s a good person because of me. My response is always that I am a good person because of her and her sister.. I can’t wait to see the things she accomplishes in life. I’m just glad I get to sit shotgun on the ride of her life.

Photo via

Surprise! Valentine’s Day is coming up!  I really can’t help you with what your love might actually want for the big day.  My husband keeps asking me and I’ve got nothing.  But, if you are considering one of these, think again.

1.  The giant Hunka Love Bear.  Where would you even put this?  In a garage sale, that’s where.

Felicity Huffman's What The Flicka? - 5 Things Your Wife Doesn't Want For Valentine's Day
Photo via.

2.  A gold dipped rose.  What? Why?

Felicity Huffman's What The Flicka? - 5 Things Your Wife Does Not Want For Valentine's Day
Photo via.

3.  These.  Nothing says, “let’s put the kids to bed early” like a pair of cow hoodie footies.  Or, is that a bunny?

Felicity Huffman's What The Flicka? - 5 Things Your Wife Does Not Want For Valentine's Day
Photo via.

4. Names drawn in sand framed art.  And, this would be a sweet gift if Sable and Jeff had actually gone to the beach, but this is just a computer generated picture.

Felicity Huffman's What The Flicka? - 5 Things Your Wife Does Not Want For Valentine's Day
Photo via.

5.  Or these matching shirts.  Just. No.

Felicity Huffman's What The Flicka? - 5 Things Your Wife Does Not Want For Valentine's Day

Photo via.A quick google search of “Valentine gifts for wife” will earn you countless other great gifts, such as these.

What is the best Valentine’s gift that you have received?  Not including my son (born on February 14th), the best gifts my husband gave to me were the ones that didn’t cost any money.  Handwritten notes rank high on my list.

What are your plans for the big day or do you even celebrate?

Originally posted at Jennifer’s blog.

As January and the New Year begins it can be a very scary or a very exciting time. It seems like 2016 just flew by; it was an eventful year for sure. It’s always a good idea not to look back and dwell on the past. It’s time to focus on the future and the great year ahead. It all begins in January. It’s the perfect month to set the platform of what your year will be. I love that about this month.

Here are 5 reasons you should love January.

1. New Beginning

Every January we get to tear up that list of resolutions we didn’t get done the year before and start fresh with a clean slate. It’s a month for New Beginning! It’s exciting to get the opportunity to set new goals and go after them for the year.

2. Celebrate Three Kings Day

On January 6th the gifts keep coming on this traditionally Hispanic holiday. It’s the celebration of the three wise men who visited the baby Jesus and gifted him with gold, frankincense and myrrh. It’s always great to get more presents.

3. Relax with National Bubble Bath Day and National Hot Tea Month.

January 8th happens to be National Bubble Bath Day. Who doesn’t love bubble baths? It’s the one day of the year where you have absolutely no excuse not to have a relaxing bubble bath. Additionally, January is National Hot Tea Month, so why not combine the two and drink hot tea in your bubble bath? We recently posted two amazing hot tea recipes so we’ve got you covered.  Try our Divine Holiday Tea (rum and vodka for tea with a warm kick!)  or our Russian Tea for that incomparable addition to bath time (no kids allowed)!

4. Relaxation

Now that the holidays have come to an end leaving us exhausted yet full of memories, we can now sit back and relax. No more worrying about decorations, out of town visitors, gifts, and cooking nonstop. It’s time to slow down and enjoy some quality you time. Try some wine and cheese and a relaxing night at home. You don’t have to worry about any holidays in January!

5. It’s TV Time

Mark your calendars as some of your favorite shows come back in January from their mid-season hiatus. I’ve been counting the days until January for this reason; who doesn’t love to sit on the couch and veg out while watching their favorite shows? It’s my favorite thing to do after the busy holiday season.
I hope these 5 reasons help you to look forward to all that January has to offer.

This one goes out to every mother who has ever felt lost. Over it. Wired and exhausted. Overwhelmed and broken. It also goes out to every mother who has felt at the top of her game. Winning. Like her kid is the bees fucking knees.

Perhaps, once or twice, you’ve felt trapped by motherhood. Or incomparably blessed by it. Maybe today you’re just going through the motions when all you want is a silent room and some grapes. Or you’re pumping your fist in the air because you’ve got this thing nailed.

If you’ve been at this gig for any length of time, you’ve spent good portions of time on both sides of this fence.

As I write this, I’m feeling pretty blissed out. Cal only screamed like a banshee twice so far today. I can hear AJ making breakfast downstairs and the kids are whooping happily outside. This is living.

A week ago, not so much. Way back then, in the distant past of last Saturday, I wanted to stop being a mom. As if I could just walk out wearing my uniform, flip off the manager and never look back. Imagine the freedom. The wind whipping my hair, a whole horizon ahead. All of that space.

How could someone not want to abandon this job after days of intermittent but relentless screaming? Those wild animal toddler rages. The utter loss of adult competence and control.

The truth is this: if motherhood were an actual job, the kind that you could interview for and request a transfer away from, precious few would keep it.

You see, a week ago, back when I wanted to quit, I’d been solo parenting for 4 days. That may sound minimal. For me, it was not. Given the latest, grating loop that our resident 3-year-old, Cal, has introduced to our lives, it only took 2 days for me to start feeling like a cracked out war veteran.

These days, Cal, screams bloody murder at the slightest provocation. “I want that TRUCK! Not THAT truck! NooooOOOOOO!! STOOOOOP!” He wants everything Jo has, the moment he has it, and not a moment longer. When the toy or rock or hot dog leaves Jo’s grasp, Cal could not care less. As long as Jo does have it, Cal is a desperate, wild animal. Sometimes, Jo marshals up his patience, tries to leave the room, or asks for help from me, but inevitably, frustration overwhelms and he hauls off and smacks Cal. This is met with fiercer Cal screams and a good old-fashioned brother brawl. You see how this goes. A nightmare boy typhoon that twists around again and again and again. After the umpteenth time, I start to hate it. And then I start to think I hate them. I can feel that twisting inside. I become a hard, knotty old broad who pickled sour and is out for revenge. I stomp around the house on tree trunk legs with a scowl on my face just waiting for an opportunity to bust my boys for bad behavior, because they’re so very bad.

Shockingly, when you add the stomping, bitter broad to the whole boy typhoon, things don’t tend to go well. There’s often shaming. And crying. It’s basically the worst.

And then somehow, things change. I scream and then we all cry. Or I slam a door and later, I lie to Cal that the wind blew it closed. Or I turn on the sprinkler and let the chickens out.

That’s how I found my first 2 or 3 consecutive hours of peace on that terrible solo-parenting weekend. We all needed it bad. It was like finding a spring in the desert, and we gulped it in and smiled a lot. I remembered that they aren’t only here to ruin my life, and that I can be soft, wise and relaxed.

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Then there was bedtime, and the barrage of questions and song requests and popping out of bed, and I morphed, exhausted, yet again.

After that, I slunk down the stairs to our couch and cried.

Motherhood is all of these things.

And while my story might not align with yours too well, I know there’s overlap. Maybe you have one kid and he keeps you up all night. Maybe it’s your middle-schooler whose anxiety holds the whole house hostage. Maybe peace and joy reign in your kingdom today. Any way you cut it, we are all brought low by motherhood. We all feel shame, and rage and hopelessness. The trouble is that unlike the shiny happy feelings, these ugly-step sister ones get shunned, or glossed over, or buried in our desperate pile of parenting books.

So remember this, the next time you see that mom pick up her kids from school looking flawless and at ease with her beautiful, obedient children. God bless her, she might be having a good day. Or she might not, and like the rest of us, she’s just really good at playing her role in the “I’m a tremendously good mother” pageant.

The next time your friend’s kid hits yours, or says something cruel, or has a complete meltdown in the park, remember how gritty and hard motherhood has been for you at times. You probably have all sorts of judgements and ideas and advice for how she could be a better mom and fix her mean kid, but then you can just remember how shitty it feels to be barraged with judgements and ideas and advice when all you feel is ashamed of your child’s behavior and humiliated by what her problems must mean about your own inadequacy.

Probably the best thing that any of us can do for each other or ourselves is to remember that our kids and everyone else’s are both adorable dreamboats and thorny little devils. That all of our lives as parents are sweet and disastrous. That none of us knows which way the tide will turn on any given day. One minute we are charmed. The next, undone.

And that there is nothing, nothing more relieving than simply being witnessed by someone who can see all of those things.