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.

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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
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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.

For us children of the eighties, the upcoming years (and perhaps most recent ones) mark an important milestone: the dreaded, amazing, awful, wonderful, scary, liberating 4-0.

It’s hard to believe that the decade of Pogo Balls and leg warmers was so long ago.

Glo Worms, we hardly knew ye.

Still, the number of years that sits between us and parachute pants has done little to dent the impact that the eighties had on those who witnessed them through the eyes of youth. They were rad. They were awesome. They were far out. But, mostly, they were weird, even if we didn’t realize it at the time.

It turns out, there were also years we might have been doing all wrong. So, hop on your skateboard (no helmet required!) while we take a roll down memory lane.

And consider:

What we were afraid of:

Killer bees. Those mofos were flying in from Mexico or Canada or wherever at any moment. And we were certain they would kill us all.

What we should have been afraid of:

Lunch meat. We were on a first name basis with bologna and we ate it. Like, a lot. And now it’s apparently a carcinogen. So that’s freaking fantastic.

What we were collecting:

Garbage Pail Kids. We kept stacks inside our dresser drawers, such wholesome cards as Oozy Suzie and Up Chuck. The gum was an added bonus. Its staleness assured hours of chewing fun.

What we should have been collecting:

Star Wars action figures that we never took out of the box. Because not being able to actually open a brand new toy is every child’s dream.

What we were buying:

Cigarettes – Grandma sent us into 7-11 unaccompanied to get her cartons of Benson and Hedges.

What we should have been buying:

Squeezits – we could have hoarded them for when production so painfully ceased.

What we were wearing:

Aqua Net. Grade school popularity was tied directly to the height of our bangs.

What we should have been wearing:

Sunscreen with an SPF higher than 2.

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Why we were mad at our parents:

They wouldn’t buy us a Mogwai.

Why we should have been mad at our parents:

They let us wear shoulder pads to the family portrait at Sears.

What frustrated us:

The local deejay always interrupting as we tried to tape New Kids on the Block and Milli Vanilli off the radio. The Snoopy Sno-Cone Maker never having enough syrup. Wanting so badly to touch the middle of a floppy disk and knowing that doing so would end humanity.

What should have frustrated us:

The game Simon. That’s how carpal tunnel became a thing.

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What we wanted to drive:

KITT, a DeLorean, the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile.

What we should have wanted to drive:

Nothing. Empty handlebars and a friend with strong leg muscles could take us anywhere we needed to go.

What we asked Santa for:

The giant train from Silver Spoons.

What we should have asked Santa for:

An actual silver spoon. Silver’s a good investment.

What we wanted to be:

A Barbizon model.

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What we should have wanted to be:

A giant nerd totally into computers. It’s pretty much a guarantee of success later in life.

What we were perfecting:

The art of prank calling. I was always too much of a wuss to prank anyone, but I’d laugh in the background like a boss while my friends did it.

What we should have been perfecting:

Texting. Sure, no one except Zack Morris actually had a cellphone, but we could have prepared for the future by strengthening our fingers with one of those grip exercisers that everyone’s dad owned.

What we were memorizing:

The lines from The Breakfast Club.

What we should have been memorizing:

The lyrics to “Ice Ice Baby.” Though technically a 1990 release, when you can sing along to all the words in a car full of people – well, that’s just fun for everyone.

What we were proud to own:

A VCR. My parents still have one of the first ever made. It’s so heavy that I can’t even lift it.

What we should have been proud to own:

A record player. The older LPs get, the cooler they become.

What we were putting on everything:

Ranch dressing.

What we should have been putting on everything:

Ranch dressing. Ranch dressing for-freaking-ever!

What we were playing:

The Oregon Trail.

What we should have been playing:

A game that didn’t convince every third grader that they were dying of cholera (or maybe that was just me).

What we were learning:

That Control, Open Apple, Delete solved all the world’s problems.

What we should have been learning:

That Pluto was a giant poser, merely pretending to be a planet when it was really just Mickey’s dog.

What we were watching:

Growing Pains, The Cosby Show, Cheers, Who’s the Boss.

What we should have been watching:

Punky Brewster. I was obsessed with this show. Had I known it would only be on for a few seasons, I would have watched it four times a day instead of a measly three.

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Who we had on our walls:

Kirk Cameron, Tom Cruise, Malcom-Jamal Warner.

Who we should have had on our walls:

Punky Brewster…..duh!

Featured image via. 

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Happy Mother’s Day to my mom whose love is bigger than ice cream.

When my mint chocolate chip ice cream fell off the cone and you handed me yours, I remember thinking, “I will never love someone enough to give them my ice cream.”

When you worked nights delivering babies at a hospital while your babies were home in bed, only to return and pack lunches, to nap instead of sleep, take us to school, and prepare meals that were never frozen or called in.

When I had a book of jokes, carried it into the car, the bathroom, and to dinner saying, “Mom, knock knock” repeatedly. For three months, you replied, “Who’s there?” mustering laughter at every corny punchline like I was a comic genius.

When you drove us to violin and piano lessons, the theatre, and softball practice, sitting in an auditorium or on bleachers saying, “Go Mozart, go Chopin, Go Chekov, go team!”

When you hosted slumber parties for 13 prepubescent girls and their 101 issues that came to fruition in the middle of the night, you tackled them with junk food and a flashlight saying, “It will all be better in the morning.”

When you were exhausted and ready for bed and I said “How about a game of Candy Land?,” you replied, “Okay honey,” even after working a 12-hour shift.

When I was sick and you’d sit on the bathroom floor, holding my hair back, taking my temp, to end up sleeping by the toilet basin, I never once suspected that you would rather be on a beach in Tahiti or curled up in bed with a good book.

When you forced us to write thank you notes and visit boring, old people in nursing homes. Even though we complained that it smelled like urine and all they did was talk about the war and good old days, you said, “Sometimes it isn’t about you. Sometimes it’s about the war and good old days and places that smell like urine.”

When you flew out to Los Angeles for the birth of your grandchild and showed me those first steps of how to be a mother.

When, four months later, you spent two weeks by a hospital bed, drinking coffee, and watching Dora the Explorer, asking the doctors and nurses the hard questions that I couldn’t think of because my baby was in a hospital bed.

When you prayed, fundraised, and gathered your village for us.

When you listened everyday to my fears and took on the heavy weight I couldn’t carry alone.

When you made every single person in your life feel that they are worth homemade brownies.

Mom.

When I think of what you are to me.

When I am tired and overworked, exhausted, and rundown, or when Addie has dropped her ice cream off the cone and I give her mine without a thought and she says, “How about a game of Candy Land?”

When she is sick and I have to call doctors and pharmacies, and my life is on hold.

All I have to do is think of you and I know exactly what to do.

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