Just to recap, my 4- and 9-year old sons Luke and Patrick came up with these “House Rules” on their own to make my husband and me happy. (I am quite pleased with the rules because they also keep my little guys safe, which is not easy in a house of four boys.)

Last week, I outlined RULE #1–”No punching.”

Rule #2 is” No kicking,” which is self-explanatory.

Today, I’m addressing rules #3 and #4, which are tied together by sword play.

Now, I have to point out upfront that I am not a parent who advocates violence. But I have boys, and they pine over weapons such as guns, swords, and scythes (my 9-year-old’s want of the moment, because he wants to be the grim reaper for Halloween). I give in, with ground rules. Our guns are Nerf guns, our swords are made of foam, and the scythe, which I ordered this morning, is plastic. When using these weapons (the scythe will never be used, except as a prop for Halloween), we don’t shoot or hit above the neck, which is my rule. But my sons have now come up with their own for safe play.

My sons’ Rule #3 is “No hitting hard with swords.” Considering that the swords are foam, it seems like it would be impossible for them to inflict pain. But, when hit hard, it feels as if you’ve been slapped–hard. So, my sons decided that their sword play with be more “play” and less like an actual dual.

Rule #4 is “No stabbing balls hard with swords.” And, yes, they’re talking testicles here. Because a hard hit with a foam sword feels like a hard slap, avoiding the ball area is warranted. Plus, my 4-year-old will sometimes make swords with Tinker Toys, which are hard plastic. My husband has been on the receiving end of one of these stabbings. Ouch! Thank goodness he’s already had all of his children…

Later this week, more rules…

Two months ago, my nine- and four-year-old sons, Patrick and Luke, were MIA for about an hour, and they reappeared proudly, showing my husband and me a list of “House Rules.” They’d written these rules on several 8 1/2 x 11 sheets of white computer paper, then taped them together in a long list. They asked if they could put their list on the refrigerator. Of course, I said yes, impressed with their initiative.

Then I read the house rules. They are definitely “boy” house rules, for we have a house of four boys.

I asked my nine-year-old Patrick why they came up with these rules, and he said, “To make our parents happy.” From my perspective, they’ll not only keep my husband and me happy, but also keep our sons safe.

So, for the next several posts, I’m going to share with you “The Top Fifteen Rules for Boys (Written by Boys for Boys).”

Rule #1 is NO PUNCHING.

Now, in our house, we have no punching in anger. (Well, we had punching in anger once, when our older boys were about 12 and 14, but it resulted in the 12-year-old breaking a bone in his hand, so that was the end of that behavior.)

So, other than that one exception, we have no angry punching. But we wrestle. (And, by we, I mean me too. They beg me too.)

Now, frustrations can escalate when two boys are wrestling their 46-year-old. strong mother. Even though they gang up on me, I can still dominate them both at the same time. So, sometimes, my four-year-old Luke will start punching wildly. He usually does this when I’ve pinned his brother Patrick on the floor, and he’s trying to protect Patrick in a valiant display of brotherly love.

But punching hurts–even 46-year-old mothers.

So I promise that, if Luke stops punching me, I’ll stop tickling them. (Tickling is my wresting secret weapon.)

Because punching (regardless of intent) hurts both parents and kids, NO PUNCHING. A solid Rule #1.

When my 9-year-old son Patrick was three, we went to a concert at Pottery Barn Kids. A folk artist sat in the back of the store, guitar in hand. In front of him was free space for children to dance in, surrounded by their parents sitting in a semi-circle of chairs. My son and I sat in the front row of the almost-empty audience. As the musician started his show, singing children’s songs, my son got up and started dancing. But, after a few minutes, he noticed no one else was dancing, he looked around self-consciously, and he sat down next to me.

I was heartbroken because I knew that it was the end of his carefree, not-aware-of-anyone-else’s reactions world. He had entered the realm of wondering what other people think–and tempering his true self, his natural instincts (as in, to dance) because of fear of repercussions. What if someone thought he was weird, dancing alone? What is he wasn’t a good dancer?

This morning, my four-year-old son Luke thought he “looked embarrassing.” It’s raining, and I put on his fireman raincoat, new to him, because he just grew out of his shark one, which he felt was super-cool. He had a complete breakdown, trying to rip it off his body. He slumped to the floor, refusing to go to school. He repeated, over and over, that he “looked embarrassing.” I just pulled him up to his feet and sent him out the door, so we wouldn’t be late for school.

But, once we were in the car, I had a talk with him. I told him how cool firefighters are–how they fight fires and save lives. I told him that the raincoat used to be Patrick’s, who thought it was the coolest coat ever. I said that Patrick is upset that he grew out of it, because he’d love to have it still. (At this point, Luke looked at over Patrick, who gave him a jealous look.) I said that he should never be embarrassed because he is a great kid. I said that, if anyone says anything negative to him about his raincoat, that person is mean. I said that some kids think firefighters are so cool that they dress as firefighters for Halloween.

He had silently for a few minutes, then asked, “Do you know what Owen is going to be for Halloween?”

“No.”

“A fireman.”

“You see,” I said. “I bet Owen is going to love your raincoat.”

Luke seemed unembarrassed when I dropped him off, but we’ll see…

One of my first memories, from age three or four, is of feeling self-conscious. And I was burdened with feeling self-conscious–often–from then on. It’s a terrible feeling, not feeling confident, feeling nervous that I’m being negatively judged.

But I don’t act as if I’m self-conscious. I act confident. It’s the philosophy of acting “as if.” If I act “as if” I’m self-confident, I will eventually grow into self-confidence. And it’s worked a bit.

But I’d better perfect my solution to self-consciousness quickly. I have to pass it on to my kids.

Every morning, my 4-year-old son Luke claims to be itchy. The solution to his itchiness is called “scratchy,” which he requests from me, as in, “Will you do scratchy?”

Every Monday through Friday when he gets home from school, he wants to relax in front of the TV for a bit, while having a snack. (Apparently preschool is very stressful.) Then he’ll be itchy, so he’ll ask me to do scratchy, helpfully pulling up his pant legs, so I can scratch his little legs, as he reclines on the couch.

He still naps at 4 1/2, which is awesome, but he’s itchy before his nap. In this case, he’ll take off his shirt, so I can scratch his entire back. Plus his arms. He’ll also have taken shorts out of his drawer and switched from his pants to shorts so I can easily scratch his legs. As you can see, he’s very helpful with the entire “scratchy” process.

Every night, he is, of course, itchy. So he’ll only put on pajama shorts, because, after we read books, I have to give whole-body scratchy in order to relax him enough to go to sleep.

He and my 9-year-old son Patrick recently requested their own personal back-scratchers, which I bought on Amazon for about $2 each, plus free shipping. They came Friday, and they’re pretty cool, with telescoping arms. Last night, as I read Luke four of Mo Willems’ Elephant & Piggie books (all of which rock, by the way) and one Curious George book, he used the back-scratcher to scratch his own legs. But this was insufficient. He still required all-over scratchy before sleep.

If I added up the amount of time I have done scratchy, I’d feel like an idiot, I’m sure. But I love him, and he loves “scratchy.” This morning, after I performed the task, he said, “When you do scratchy, it feels sooooooooo good–because you’re my Mama.”

I get something out of it too. He won’t always want me to touch him in such an intimate way. I know this: My 9-year-old is repulsed if I kiss him.

Plus, when he’s relaxing while I do scratchy, he looks like an angel. A spoiled one.

Two days ago, my 4-year-old son Luke woke up, then starting singing, “You’re my best mama in the world. Mama! Mama!”

Now anyone who is a mother knows how wonderful, yet self-esteem crushing motherhood can be.

I am a stay-at-home mom, so I don’t get self-satisfaction from a career, as I used to. I used to be “someone.” I used to manage dozens of people. I published articles in industry magazines and newsletters. I won marketing awards. I organized a Royal event for the British Film Institute IMAX Cinema at which I introduced Prince Charles: “Please welcome His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales.”

Now I have the blessing of being able to spend lots of quality time with my sons, yet I won’t know for years whether I’ve done a good job mothering them. Yes, they’re sweet and normally well-behaved now, but will they grow up to be nice, happy, well-adjusted human beings? I’m doing everything in my power to make it so, but so many other factors will intervene.

When I’m not mothering, I’m emptying the dishwasher, picking up toys, shopping for groceries. Monotonous tasks that I take no joy in. Monotonous tasks that don’t give me a sense of pride.

I write, but I’m waiting for feedback from publications and agents, so no self-esteem boost there yet.

So it was nice hearing that I’m the best mama in the world. Actually he said I’m HIS best mama in the world. Of course, I’m his ONLY mama in the world. But, to him, I’m “someone.”

This past weekend, I woke up to my husband telling me he had a show on Netflix he thought I would like. It was Peaky Blinders, but that’s not part of this story.

I trudged downstairs to our basement at 7:30 a.m., where my husband put on the show. At about 8, my 4-year-old son Luke came down the stairs and said he wanted breakfast RIGHT NOW. There was stomping involved.

Now, he’s usually not so demanding. Usually he says please. So I had to set him straight, that he’s not the one in charge, that I am not his personal slave.

So I told him that I’d make him breakfast when my show was over.

He answered, “You’re FIRED.” (Where he came up with this term, I’ll never know. Actually, my 9-year-old Patrick just piped in: SpongeBob gets fired, so that’s where he got it.)

I laughed and said, “If you want a new mom, go for it.”

He stood there thinking, then said, “But then you’d need to get divorced.” (I know where this comes from: My husband was married before, so he does know the term.)

My husband responded. “Just because you want a new mom doesn’t mean I have to get divorced.”

Luke stood there, thoughtfully, his temper-tantrum behind him. And he decided that he could wait 20 minutes for breakfast, that he would keep me after all.

So I’m not fired. But I’m definitely on “notice.”

I started writing children’s books when I was a child. I also wrote poems and rock songs. Then, due to my parents, I became jaded about my potential to be a writer when I grew up.

I did become a writer professionally, but I did it as a public relations and marketing professional who was writing for others. I had always wanted to write for myself, but who wouldn’t want that luxury?

In the nine years that I’ve been a mother, I’ve returned to that childhood mindset where imagination is everything, and anything is possible. Nightly, after I read books to my children, I create stories from scratch. Every morning, as I’m making my sons breakfast and getting them ready for school, I sing made-up lyrics to made-up melodies. And, every once in a while, I take myself seriously and write one of these stories or songs down.

Two weeks ago, I realized I had five children’s books completed. Plus dozens of more ideas.

In the past, you’ve read about my in vitro fertilization process, the loss of one of my twins, my high-risk pregnancy, and the birth of my healthy son. You know how much I cherish being a mother.

Now I’m writing stories not only for my own children, but for yours as well. I am writing books that convey positive messages, such as unconditional love, self-acceptance, cooperation, the power of positive thinking, and turning a positive into a negative with the proper perspective. I’m writing stories that will be fun for your kids and enjoyable for you too. Stories that include potty humor, yes. But it’s classy potty humor.

In order to get published, I have to have books that are well-written, plus a solid “author platform”–meaning I have to prove that I have enough of a following to make my books successful. So please sign yourself up on this website (top left of this page), please follow me on Facebook and Twitter, and please ask your family members, friends, Facebook friends, Twitter followers–anyone you know personally or virtually–to support me also.

To learn more about my books, click on My Books.

Thank you very much! Here’s to making anything possible!

I’ve heard a saying along the lines of every family is crazy in its own way. But my family now has a literally crazy member, due to Parkinson’s disease and dementia.

My father recently spent weeks in the psych ward of a hospital where he had to be tied to his wheelchair by “the vest,” an armless shirt with two straps attached to it, two straps that are strung behind the wheelchair and tied there. My father can’t walk safely, yet he tries to stand and walk repeatedly, so the vest kept him safe from getting up and falling.

When I visited him in the psych ward at the end of August, he told my mother to leave the room because he had something to tell me. He put his hand over his mouth, as if we were being watched, and said, “She’s friends with the devil. No one believes me, but it’s true. She’s friends with the devil.” He concluded that this is why he needs to kill her.

Later that same visit, he announced that everyone in the hospital thinks that he’s a spy for the president.

He also thought it was ridiculous that he, of all people, was in a psych ward.

He was kicked out of his first nursing home because he hit a nurse, which he doesn’t remember, and shook another resident’s hand so hard that the staff thought he had broken it. The head of the nursing home told my mother that all of the other residents were afraid of him.

He is now in a nursing home that specializes in patients with dementia, but he’s still a handful to the staff. He can’t be trusted to be alone, so he sleeps on a mattress, put out specifically for him, in the common room. He still tries to stand and walk, and, two days ago, trying to get up from his wheelchair, he fell flat on his face, necessitating a visit to the local hospital, where a CAT scan showed his actual head to be fine, while we know the brain inside is not.

He keeps trying to take his clothes off, so he has to wear an outfit that zips up the back, an ensemble he can’t wriggle out of.

He accused my mother of being the girlfriend of his roommate John. On another occasion, he told her he has a girlfriend. He has moments of lucidity, so my mother doesn’t know if he’s being serious or if he’s just messing with her. He is the kind of man who, angry at being in a home, would mess with her.

He admitted to her that he can’t help but be mean. When my younger brother visited him recently, with his wife and two daughters in two, my father told him, in front of them, that he was fat, lazy and an idiot. I believe this is what he really thinks: He was always a negative man. But he didn’t always say what he thought before. And now he has no filter. When I first saw him in the psych ward six weeks ago, he was calling a nurse a “selfish pig.”

I live six hours away from my parents. I call my mother regularly, but I can’t call my father. His speech, due to Parkinson’s, is too garbled to understand by phone. My mother said, if he’s lucid one day, she may call me while she’s visiting him, so he can at least hear my voice.

My father is only 71, he has no quality of life, and he would be embarrassed if he knew what he had become. I wish there were some way of helping him, but there is no cure for Parkinson’s, no cure for dementia. So he and we will have to wait for him to be at peace. He and we will have to wait until his body decides to give up. His mind is already gone.

My father, suffering from Parkinson’s disease, has advanced dementia. The doctors now think he has dementia not only from Parkinson’s, but also dementia on its own–double dementia, I guess you could call it.

When I spoke with my mother yesterday, she said that my father told her that he has called me one hundred times, but I haven’t answered the phone, so I don’t know what’s going on with him.

She told him that he must have dreamed this, because his nursing home doesn’t have my number. Nor would they call me long distance.

I think he believes that, if I knew what his life was like in the nursing home, I would save him.

Years ago, when we put my maternal grandmother in a nursing home, my father was visibly agitated as we walked down the hall to leave. He said to me, “If I ever end up in one of these places, pull the plug.”

But I can’t do that, regardless of how sad I am about his failing body and mind, regardless of how devastated I am that he can no longer live at home.

I know he feels helpless.

I feel so helpless too.

When my 3-year-old is stalking me throughout our house, I ask him is he’s feeling “needy.” And he’ll say yes.

Last night, as I was lying in bed with him, he listed every member of our family–his 19-year-old brother, his 17-year-old brother, his 8-year-old brother and his dad–and asked why each is needy sometimes.

I said, “Well, sometimes we all like to be alone, to do things by ourselves, but sometimes we want to be with other people, snuggling and stuff.”

He said, “I’m needy every day.”

And he is.

He wants me to sit with him while he watches SpongeBob Squarepants on TV. If I do sit with him, reading a magazine or book while he’s watching away, he gets irritated that I’m not actually viewing the show, because I’m going to miss something. When he goes to bed for his nap or at night, he wants me to lie with him. Actually he wants me to sleep with him all night. Whenever he’s playing, whatever he’s playing, he wants me to play with him.

I love that he loves me so much, but it’s hard to be wanted this much, even though I love him more than I can express. Even though I love that I’m a stay-at-home mom who has the opportunity to play with him and snuggle with him, I also need to be alone. And he makes that hard, but that’s just part of being three.