Sunday, August 9

Fables to Cover Foibles

     Those who know me casually, and hear me talk about arranging flowers, or the best technique for peeling apples, or the proper way to set a table, often comment about how I am such a Domestic Goddess. Some have even called me Martha Stewart, in fact, I won a 'Martha Stewart Award' in a fun talent contest once. But just talk to my family -- they'll laugh at the suggestion. Now granted, no prophet was ever accepted in his own hometown. Why? Because those who live in close proximity to that prophet repeatedly witness all faults and foibles.You see, what my casual acquaintances don't realize is that my brain is a massive repository for both useful and completely useless information, and this information resides comfortably in my cranium, rarely being put into actual use in my life.
     What kind of information? Well, my kids will tell you that I wax pedantic over just about any topic that comes up, especially if I actually know something about it. But even if I don't, among my talents lies the ability to sound very knowledgeable on subjects about which I know diddly-squat. For the most part, though, I have what I would call a moderate working knowledge across many topics, vs. some folks who have a very deep knowledge on relatively few topics and a little knowledge about many others. So, while this doesn't necessarily make me smarter than the next guy, it makes me look smarter at times, which is all kinds of fun! My son, Paul, told me when he was in the fifth grade that he had had occasion to announce to those sitting at his lunch table that his mother knew just about everything. His friend John, who hung around our house often back then, said, "She does -- it's scary!"

I sure enjoyed frightening kids back in the day.

      A perfect example of this phenomenon is my extensive knowledge of gardening and botanical nomenclature. I can tell you that many species and cultivars of digitalis are short-lived perennials, often treated as biennials, and are usually hardy only to zone 5, whereas, digitalis grandiflora (my favorite species) is longer-lived and hardy to zone 4 (and that you should really put a hyphen between 'longer' and 'lived' as above, because you are using two words together as an adjective). Or did you know that what we call 'geraniums', with their pretty, bright red, pink or white flowers and unique fragrance, actually belong to the genus pelargonium graveolens? I can tell you that vinca minor will generally be happiest in shade, although in zones 3 and 4 it will tolerate full sun.

blah...blah...blah.....OK, fine, but who cares? Nobody but me, I guarantee it.

      And there are a number of other topics where my knowledge is extensive enough to make you wish you had not run into me at the grocery store. Cooking, sewing, dyeing, construction, health matters, computer graphics, web research, hair and makeup, all kinds of household matters from electrical to faux painting and the list goes on. The drive to learn has created a real treasure trove of knowledge, especially because when I decide to acquire a new skill or area of knowledge, I work it pretty thoroughly before getting bored and moving on to the next thing.

But the minutiae that lives in this head is overwhelming sometimes. One thing that I have learned about myself (and this is important) is that, while I'm happy knowing things, I'm less happy executing them in my life, with my family and in my home. Let me tell you, the day I finally acknowledged this and stopped making excuses for not carrying out all of the ideas in my head, was a painful day for me. I will probably never set that perfect table that I have read about in all the magazines and have imagined doing. I do, indeed, know all the rules for setting a proper dinner table, I own no less than Limoges china, and I have collected all matching silverware. But in reality, I am usually in too big a hurry, or too tired, to go to the trouble of setting any table (even for company) and usually prefer that we eat in front of the television, thank you very much. I am quite a good cook, and in fact have cooked professionally, but I rarely enjoy spending a lot of time making a meal anymore. So, despite all of my resources, it's usually Hamburger Helper and vintage reruns of Seinfeld.

Domestic Goddess, indeed.

      Were it just me living with this reality, I wouldn't mind. But the really painful part for me is that I have had many, many dreams of things to do for, and with, my children, and now they are grown and leaving, for Pete's sake, without my having done all those fun things good mothers do. I have simply hoarded the information for that day when we will do it. Although I'm a very good seamstress, I never sewed one piece of clothing for any of my children, until I made my oldest daughter's prom dress, and the sewing machine went back into mothballs immediately afterward, despite the desperate need in the girls' room for curtains. Now the rational person might just go and buy curtains and be content. But, n-o-o-o-o, not me. They have to be custom. Will they ever get done? Who knows? But they'll be custom, by golly.

You see my dilemma.

      I have tried in vain to discipline myself to do more of those idealistic things that I know all about, and in truth I am a little better than I was. But I will never be a domestic goddess, that's for sure. The impulse to put things off for whatever reason I choose for the day, seems so deeply ingrained in my psyche that I doubt I will ever be able to truly change.
Am I being arrogant, flaunting all my ability right here in print? I suppose it could be seen that way, except that I can take no credit for my cerebral prowess -- I view it as a gift that I just ended up with. And while it's fun at times, more often it's a burden to me, leaving me with a sense that I have squandered it for the most part, that I should be doing so much more with this gift, when I already feel overwhelmed with my life as it is.
     It really is true what they say, at least in this sense: ignorance is bliss. I see others who may perhaps have a lower IQ or less knowledge, and they are content with life. Sometimes I feel jealous of them, because I, on the other hand, am always restless, looking for the next thing to learn. I wish sometimes that I could stop the wheels in my head, and just putter in my house, doing all the mundane things that need doing, but that's not something one can change about one's self. So to-date, after 25 years of marriage, I have never had a 'Cleaning Day', where I just clean the house, something most other wives do as a matter of course.

Wednesday, October 1


You really need to visit this store in White River Vermont. We just bought two floor lamps for our girls' room and they are absolutely divine. I don't think I've ever seen more interesting and unique lamps. Each lamp that Ken Blaisdell makes is one-of-a-kind and fabulous.

A peek at Ken's shop
His Facebook page provides more info about him and his business, but he does not yet have an actual website. Here is a paragraph from his page:

Blaisdell grew up around Springfield, Mass. As a young man, he started working in the city as a salesman for a producer of industrial machinery. Hanging around the factory he learned how to use the equipment. One day he wanted to try to make an art project and he thought that a lamp would be pretty simple. He then decided to paint a lampshade to complement his creation and...

...A Light Bulb went on! It was electrifying!!

Says Ken about his work:

“Although Lampscapes began with the production of a lamp base, the excitement began the first time I painted a shade.  The idea of light behind a painted landscape offers continuous inspiration for me. I have used oil and acrylic on styrene, vinyl and all types of paper.  My latest interest is painting on hand-made paper.”

His funky little store is half workshop half retail, and is filled with all kinds of shades and bases. If you want something simple in particular, he may even build the base with items you see, and hand paint the shade on the spot for you to take home. He did this for one of the lamps my girls bought, and they were amazed. He even wired it right there in front of them!

The bases for my girls' lamps are made from re-purposed metal parts, including two gears layered over a rusted metal flat disk that serve as a base for one, and a broken metal ring--something that he found in the train yard across the road--brilliantly transformed, still broken, into a finial on top. It looks wonderful! I've asked for two table lamps for Christmas, and they will be my favorite thing under the tree, I already know. Images of my girls' lamps coming soon.

Every lamp in the store reflects his own signature style, and you'll find them nowhere else. What this man is doing in a sleepy backwater like White River is a mystery--but I'm glad he is--it's gonna be saving me a lotta trips to New York (which is where his wonderful work belongs).

Thursday, September 25

The Beast in Me

In the past few decades, meat has been blamed for all sorts of Western diseases.
But we’ve been eating meat for a long time and blaming new health problems on old foods doesn’t make much sense. The truth is… unprocessed, naturally fed meat is extremely healthy. Here are 7 evidence-based health reasons to eat meat (and be proud of it).

1. We Have Been Designed to Eat Meat and Other Animal Foods

Throughout history, humans and have been eating meat. Our digestive systems are well equipped to make full use of the healthy fats, proteins and nutrients found in animal foods.
The truth is that humans are omnivores, despite what some vegan proponents would have you believe. We function best eating BOTH animals and plants. Humans have much shorter digestive systems than herbivores and don’t have the specialized organs to digest cellulose, the main fiber in plants. Humans also have canines, with big brains, opposing thumbs and the ability to make tools to hunt.
Bottom Line: Humans have been designed to consume and make full use of the important nutrients found in animal foods.

2. Meat is Incredibly Nutritious

High quality, unprocessed meat is among the most nutritious foods in the world. A 3.5 ounce portion of raw ground beef contains large amounts of Vitamin B12, B3 (Niacin), B6, iron, zinc, selenium and plenty of other vitamins and minerals. Vitamin B12 is particularly important because it cannot be gotten in ANY amount from plants. Studies show that out of vegans who don’t supplement with B12, 92% are deficient in this critical nutrient.
Unprocessed meat is also loaded with healthy fats, but meat from grass-fed animals contains up to 5 times as much Omega-3 as meat from grain-fed animals. But the nutrient composition of meat goes way beyond all the macro- and micronutrients that we are all familiar with. There is also a plethora of important lesser-known nutrients in meat, that cannot be gotten from plants. These nutrients are crucial for optimal function of the body:
  • Creatine forms an energy reserve in the muscles and brain and is found only in animal foods. Vegetarians are deficient in creatine, leading to reduced physical and mental performance.
  • Carnosine functions as a powerful anti-oxidant and provides protection against many degenerative processes. Carnosine is only found in animal foods.
  • DHA and EPA are the active forms of Omega-3 in the human body and found primarily in animal foods. The body is inefficient at converting ALA (the plant form of Omega-3) to the active forms.
This is really just the tip of the iceberg. There is an immense amount of important trace nutrients in both plants and animals, some of which science has yet to uncover.
Bottom Line: Meat is highly nutritious and there are many nutrients in there that cannot be gotten in any amount from plants.

3. Meat Doesn’t Raise Your Risk of Cardiovascular Disease or Diabetes

There are many claims about meat being able to contribute to serious diseases like cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The main reason for these claims is that meat is high in saturated fat. However, this myth has actually been debunked quite thoroughly in recent years. Studies now show that saturated fat in the diet doesn’t raise the “bad” cholesterol in the blood and is not in any way associated with heart disease. In a massive study from Harvard that looked at data from 20 studies with a total of 1,218,380 individuals, they found no association between unprocessed red meat, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
The EPIC study from Europe didn’t find any association either and this study included almost 450,000 people. However, both of these studies found a significantly increased risk for processed meat. If you want to avoid chronic disease, then it makes sense to avoid processed meat as much as possible. But unprocessed red meat is perfectly healthy.
Bottom Line: There is no evidence that unprocessed meat contributes to cardiovascular disease or diabetes.

4. Meat Contains High Quality Protein, Which is Crucial for the Function of Muscles and Bones

Proteins are like long strings of amino acids that are linked together and folded into complex shapes. There are about 9 amino acids that we cannot produce and must get from the diet.
In this regard, animal proteins are excellent… they contain all the amino acids that we need, while most plant proteins have a suboptimal amino acid profile. Not surprisingly, consumption of animal protein is associated with increased muscle mass and people who eat an omnivorous diet have more muscle than people eating a vegetarian diet. Studies also show that vegetarians have much lower testosterone levels than their meat-eating counterparts. Low testosterone is associated with reduced strength, less muscle mass, more fat gain, depression and reduced self-esteem. Another thing that protein is important for is bone health. The studies show that consumption of protein, especially animal protein, is associated with increased bone density in old age and a lower risk of fractures.
If you want to gain (or maintain) muscle, as well as prevent osteoporosis and fractures in old age, then animal protein should be a regular part of your diet.

Bottom Line: Consumption of animal protein leads to increased muscle mass and bone density. Vegetarians have lower testosterone and less muscle mass than their meat-eating counterparts.

5. There is Only a Very Weak Correlation With Cancer, Which May be Due to Overcooking, NOT the Meat Itself

There are some studies showing a link between red meat consumption and cancer. However, all of these studies are so-called observational studies, which tend to be unreliable. These studies often make the mistake of pooling together processed and unprocessed meats, which is unacceptable because the two have vastly different effects.
While it is true that processed meat strongly correlates with increased cancer risk, the same is NOT true for unprocessed red meat. In so-called meta-analyses, which are studies that analyze the data from many studies at the same time, the link between red meat and cancer is found to be very weak. These studies only find a very small increase in risk for men, and zero increase for women. That being said, it is possible that the way meat is cooked can have an effect, because carcinogens can form when meat is cooked excessively. For this reason, it is important to use gentler cooking methods and cut away all burnt or charred pieces.

Bottom Line: The association between unprocessed red meat and cancer has been vastly exaggerated, but overcooking meat may have adverse effects.

6. There are no Proven Health Benefits to Avoiding Meat

Despite all the propaganda, there is no actual evidence that avoiding meat leads to health benefits. True… there are observational studies showing that vegetarians have a lower risk of several diseases. However, these results can be fully explained by the fact that vegetarians are more health conscious overall and more likely to exercise, less likely to smoke, etc. When vegetarians are compared to meat eaters that are also health conscious, no difference is found. It is also important to note that most vegetarian and vegan diets DO recommend that people eat unprocessed, whole foods and avoid added sugars, refined grains and trans fats. If vegetarian diets really have health benefits, then this is likely the true reason, NOT the fact that they eliminate perfectly healthy animal foods.

7. Meat Tastes Incredibly Good

Steak, roast chicken, lamb chops… Nuff said.

Kris Gunnars' Authority Nutrition Website

Friday, August 29

Truer Words Never Spoken



Panic and hysteria

Hunt for the guilty

Punishment of the innocent, and

Reward for the uninvolved

Wednesday, August 13

And Now, a Word From Our Sponsor . . .

You can help a small business underdog climb the ranks of the Google listings. My sister, Marcia, has a small website selling dog supplies. It's hard competing with the Amazons and Petco's of the world, and she gets left in the dust all too often. Google has not made things any easier--charging her more money than she can afford to keep herself in the game. She has some serious health problems that make it difficult for her to get out and about, and this is her only income. So help out an ole girl and put a link up on Twitter or Facebook or your own blog if you have one.

Her URL is can use anchor text, or just a simple URL--all links will help an underdog become a top dog!

Dog Collars

Saturday, August 9

Postcards from the Hippocampus

Here is a fun collection of random, unimportant little thoughts and realizations that most of us go our entire lives without ever pondering. No worries--I'm all over it for ya.

Did you realize that you only taste your food when you exhale while chewing?


When you take a capsule by mouth, don't throw your head back to get it down, tip your head forward to bring it to the back of your throat to swallow. Remember: they float, so with your head forward, the surface of the water in your mouth will be near the throat, and that capsule will be bobbing happily away right at tonsil level.

For us ladies with longer hair whose condition concerns us:

Only shampoo at the scalp--the rest of the hair shaft will be sufficiently cleaned when the shampoo and water rinse through. Repeated shampooing wears on the hair, drying it out over time. The less shampooing the better -- only the roots, where the oil glands are, need regular cleaning. And shampoo only as often as the maintenance of your image requires. Anything beyond that amounts to paying more money in a concerted campaign to wreck your hair. This is one thing our forefathers, lacking indoor plumbing, got right--less is more. And I would say skin and clothing are the same--washing dries the skin and breaks down the fibers in clothing. Less washing is a good thing.

If your hair tends to get greasy too soon, don't condition near the scalp-- just condition about halfway up the hair shaft. If this leaves static in the shorter parts around your face, (conditioner is a great static controller) rub the little bit left on your hands, after conditioning the ends, through those areas.


You know that annoying little bit of ketchup or A1 or mustard stubbornly clinging to the bottom of the bottle or jar, resisting all attempts to coax it onto your food? Centrifugal force is your best friend in these tragic moments. Here is what you must do: making sure the cap is on securely (don't ask why I know this is so important), swing that jar back and forth quickly in a semi-circle, at arm's length, with the top pointed down. For those jarred products that have a lower viscosity (i.e., a little runny), this will drive most of the remainder up to the cap where you can forcibly remove it against its will.

Why do we pay large companies for the 'privilege' of advertising their products on our clothing, cups, posters, and all other manner of name-brand products? Shouldn't they be paying us? To my mind, this is an absurd racket that we have accepted for years, and I, for one, I refuse to participate. If Nike wants me to display their cute logo or name on my clothing or shoes, they will have to approach me with a commission proposal.

Saturday, August 2

The Fear of Death

The flagship entry in this blog, shown above, discussed the accumulation of knowledge in my brain and the inability to get myself to apply the practical aspects of that knowledge, which represent one of the single greatest disappointments of my life. Ultimately, I discovered that a large part of this huge shortcoming was due to long-term, undiagnosed illness, whose 'cure' in effect is discussed below. But now in my fifties, like so many others I feel that a big chunk of life has slipped by, without my achieving so many things I had wanted to.

In the book Night to Lisbon, author Pascal Mercier writes,

“Is it ultimately a question of self-image, the determining idea one has made for oneself of what one has to have accomplished and experienced so that one can approve of the life one has lived? If this is the case, the fear of death might be described as the fear of not being able to become whom one had planned to be. Fear of death as fear of the unfulfilled then lay - it seems - completely in my hand, for it is I who draws the image of my own life as it was to be fulfilled. . . . If the certainty befalls us that it will never be achieved, this wholeness, we suddenly don't know how to live the time that can no longer be part of a whole life."

This resonated with me. At times I feel I was sleepwalking through most of my 30s and 40s, the years that should have been the prime years of my life in many ways--having matured, but still young, with many years ahead to accomplish the goals I had made for my life. And not so much 'goals' per se, but all the things I could see myself doing in my mind's eye, the things that I told myself were so doable. Now, although I realize I still have many years left, I feel a deep sense of disappointment that I did not become the person I could have been.

I'm ashamed to say that at times I let the sheer mathematical aspect of aging get to me. I'm 55 now. In ten years I'll be nearing retirement, and somehow I do view that as a dividing line of sorts, a point at which many unfulfilled ideals must be left behind, because the body or mind are no longer able, and the most productive years have passed, leaving just a few precious years to simply enjoy life as much as I can. So mentally, I give myself 10 years to get an awful lot of things done, before I reach the 'point of no return'. Then I wallow in that for just one minute more, realizing that I remember ten years ago like it was last week, which creates the horrifying realization that next week I will be 65.

This coming week had better be one productive week.

I have found a way to comfort myself about the disappointment over the opportunities past that I no longer have. But that will only take me so far, I realize, because I know myself. If I die someday without having accomplished the few things that I still want to do, I will experience a kind of disappointment I'd rather not face. So, as Pascal says, I fear death in this way--I fear what will happen just before, in my mind, and quite apart from the manner of my death.

This is not the greatest motivation to have in life, but it is a help to me. I feel a sense of urgency, now that my health is better, to simply get things done. At this point I'm still in repair mode--getting my house and life in order, so that I can get on with the things I want to accomplish. But soon I hope to start moving forward, and I'll take you with me, if you like!

Stick around.
"Better to remain silent 
                          and be thought a fool
                        than to speak
                                            and remove all doubt."

Sunday, March 30

Got Hair? Try a Tria!

One of the more charming effects of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the extra hair a woman sprouts in all the wrong places. Most often this hair is found on the face, but for me it also grew on my legs. Nice long, thick black hair, from my ankles to my backside, front and back. Getting into a bikini was an all-morning chore. I say 'was' because after about the age of 24, I got sick of dealing with it, so I rarely put on a bathing suit.

But all women have hair where they don't want it, and now there is a permanent cure! It's a nifty little gadget called Tria. It removes hair using laser technology, put right in your own hands. There are a few laser hair removal systems on the market right now, but this one got the best reviews I could find. One caveat, though -- it will only work on fair skin with brown hair (rather than blond or white). There is a sensor that must be used on the skin first to test and see if you have the right skin and hair type, and only when you pass the test will the Tria turn on. If you fail, it won't turn on, period. So darker complected women will not be able to use this.

I and my two daughters are using it, so far with good results. On my lower legs, after one treatment, I would say that 1/2 of the hair was gone, and that treatment took about 1/2 hour. After that amount of time, the unit must be recharged. Among the reviews I read, some users complained that the treatment area (the small area from which the laser is activated--the yellow part in this picture) is too small. Personally, I think it's fine. I just settle in with an episode of Law & Order and have at it. In my estimation, with all the hair I have, it may take 25-30 treatments in total to zap all the fuzzies, or 12-15 hours. This seems a small trade-off for permanently getting rid of my 'coat'. Heck, I can find a way to waste 15 hours any week of the year!

You can certainly pay full retail --$449--if you're rollin' in the dough, but for those mere mortals out there, I would suggest looking for a 'gently used' unit on eBay or Amazon. Just look for one that was bought by one of those women who found the treatment too tedious and gave up after using it a few times. If you can just be patient with the process yourself, your persistence will then pay off. I bought ours for $280, and I can always sell it when we are done. Tria says it will last for 300 charges, which is more than plenty for all of us, and probably for the next person who buys it, too.

If I'm feeling ambitious, I may post some before and after pics. I didn't take a picture before I started, but pics at this stage would still give an idea of the effectiveness.

For more info, visit the Tria website.

Thursday, March 6

Disciplining the Young Child

"We have reared a generation of brats. Parents aren't firm enough with their children for fear of losing their love or incurring their resentment. This is a cruel deprivation that we professionals have imposed on mothers and fathers. Of course, we did it with the best of intentions. We didn't realize until it was too late how our know-it-all attitude was undermining the self assurance of parents."

This is an oft-quoted passage from a Redbook interview with Dr. Benjamin Spock in his later years. The irony of this statement is that Dr. Spock himself, in his book, "The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care" had advocated the relaxation of parental authority and the affirmation of a child's self-worth. In fairness to him, generations of parents raising children up until the 20th century were not terribly enlightened, and his philosophy was intended to right some of the historical wrongs of parenting. But while many of his ideas were good, his philosophy also ushered in an era of permissive parenting that has swung the pendulum so far the other way that it has completely transformed society. Overall, I believe that we've done a disservice to our children and to ourselves by adopting an approach to raising children that is too permissive. Understandably, we worry that discipline will alienate our children. However, I believe that good discipline, understood and applied properly, will endear us to our children and help us transition to being a mentor and friend as we release our children into the world.

This may sound strange, in light of how some view discipline. Many of us think of it this way: our child does something wrong in direct defiance of the rules, we naturally become angry, and punish the child--we take away TV for a day, ground them, or we may even lash out at the child -- spank them and send them to their room until we can regroup. But this isn't good discipline -- often it's just blowing a gasket, and it's usually counterproductive.

Here is my own definition of true discipline, as it should be applied:

"The process by which a parent wisely and lovingly uses whatever effective means he chooses, to discourage undesirable behavior, and redirect his child's actions to those which are desirable. This process is rooted in love for the child, with the practical aim of getting the child to conform to the rules governing his household, and of society later; it is done for his own welfare and to ensure his own happiness in life, and never out of sheer anger or cruelty."

I daresay we begin laying the foundation of a good relationship with our kids from the moment they emerge from the womb. The push-me-pull-you for the parent is to provide structure in a child's life from that moment forward, without alienating them in the process. While much of this structure can take the form of positive reinforcement, for most kids some discipline is going to carry a far more influential message when the chips are down. I wish this weren't the case, and for those few compliant children very little true discipline may be required. Most others, however, are going to test you regularly.

As we already know, children are born a blank slate in many ways. While they do have their own unique temperament that will not change much over a lifetime, their habits, attitudes and overall approach to life are very malleable in the early years. A child learns about life by observing and emulating the actions of those he sees around him. He will also act upon any stray, seemingly clever idea that he finds rolling around in his little head, and regardless of the inspiration that may drive him, he acts in a state of partial or total ignorance of what is expected of him, depending on how old he is. Then he sits back to observe the results of what he's said or done. 'If I do this, what will happen?' is the burning question in his mind, all day, every day.

All of this is fairly obvious to most of us. However, many parents fail to realize that by far the most important thing in a young child's learning process is the parent's consistent response to the question above. Why? Because learning the mechanics of any activity is far less complicated for a child than learning the appropriateness, advisability and acceptability of the same. The only way he will be successful at figuring that part out will be to observe your response--he has only a rudimentary conscience at this age, which is woefully inadequate for this task He really and truly is relying on you to mold his conscience and good judgement, and it's your job to build in the detail for him by tailoring your responses to reflect how you want him to behave, and how you want him to feel about his behavior.

We tend to think that a child this age doesn't want to be corrected, but they certainly do. They want to learn what is right or appropriate, just as they're anxious to learn everything else. At this age, biting or hitting, taking away a toy, or other actions of which we as a society disapprove, is a neutral or perhaps beneficial action as far as the typical self-focused toddler is concerned, and it will remain that way for him until he is lovingly informed otherwise. It's your response that teaches him that it's wrong, according to the standards of the world around him. A sharply negative response at this very early stage will make it clear that an action would not be advantageous to repeat, and if the response is applied consistently, this attitude will be cemented in your child's little moral compass pretty quickly. Naturally, a positive response will encourage the repetition of an action. These two ideas comprise the well-known reward-response concept--nothing new to see here, so let's move it along.

When it comes to discipline, try to view each instance of your child's disobedience as part of a long process of experimentation and/or testing, with correction or affirmation on your part, towards the larger long-term goal of developing conscience and character. Each event represents a chance to work towards that goal, so consider all of it constructive, whether you're applying positive reinforcement or discipline--both are good and necessary. This viewpoint is different than trying to simply get your child to stop doing something that you don't approve of, or trying to get him to adopt a good habit over the short-term. What I'm suggesting is taking a much more expansive view of how your day-to-day interactions with your child affect him.

Personally, I routinely imagined my children as adults, living out the moral standards and good habits that we were establishing when they were very young. I imagined them recalling how I taught them many of these things, and how grateful they were that I loved them enough to go to the trouble. I always found these thoughts very inspiring as I faced issues with my kids each day. Like the time I stood there looking down at my adorable two-year-old daughter with a giant hunk of hair in her bangs cut down to the scalp, listening to her try to convince me that she didn't do it. I thought ahead to the good that my response right then would do for her down the line. So her first effort at telling a bald-faced lie was met with the kind of response that keeps her very honest to this day. (I know you're wondering what I did, but you'll have to wait for my essay on selecting the right method of discipline that will do the job.)

Viewing the long process this way will help you to stay objective enough to carry out true discipline in a calm, even loving way, and this will have a very profound effect on how your child sees you. If you begin making your responses to your child loving, but consistent and authoritative at a young age (in the second year, generally) he will be reminded daily who is in charge of his life until it becomes a very natural state of mind for him. This knowledge will also make him feel safe and secure in his world, and it will cause him to look at you with respect, standing you in good stead when willful disobedience becomes part of his behavioral repertoire.

Having gone through the whole process myself, I now enjoy a loving relationship with all three of my young adults. We have had very little rebellion and dissension over the years, and ours is a peaceful household. I adore all of them, and likewise they count me among their closest friends. I can think of no better testimony to the efforts we have made to carefully think through how best to mold the characters of our kids.