The Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything

If you don’t understand the title of this post, you should read some Douglass Adams (rest his soul).

And get off my lawn. (I kid.)

As a birthday gift to myself, I’m off for a spa pedicure this afternoon. I’ll be meeting my children and parents later for dinner.

There will probably be cake at some point.

After much reflection, I also came up with an über-list for 2013 (h/t @observacious, who writes here).

Read 50 books. (I am going to track them at GoodReads
At least 20 of those books should be non-fiction.
Write on this site three times a week.
Start a regular program to get some exercise.
Try one new recipe a week.
Eat more raw fruits and vegetables.
Have more fun as a mother.
Host a cocktail party.
Host an outdoor party.
Take a trip to the Children’s Museum.
Take a trip to the Carnegie Science Museum.
Go to the Three Rivers Arts Festival.
Go to the lady doctor.
Get a mammogram.
Spend a Saturday in the Strip District.
Paint my bedroom.
Go on a Just Ducky tour.
Organize the home office once and for all.
Paint stairway wall.
Frame and hang pictures on stairway wall.

My word for 2013 (and one of the reasons I wrote an überlist) is Focus. I need it in my life. I am scattered. I go several directions at once. I used to be proud to be a multitasker, but I’ve come to the conclusion that I was half-assing a dozen things instead of doing one thing at a time well.

In the comments, suggest some books for me! I’ve recently read (or am reading) all three of Gillian Flynn’s, and Columbine by Dave Cullen. I think I want to revisit L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Other than that, I’ll need ideas!

Does Not Playdate Well with Others

I’m doing playdates (for my children) wrong, and I’m not sure what to do about it.

Two recent examples:
At Flora’s request, I invited one of her classmates to the house one Sunday. I picked the girl up, and first we went out to lunch. Kate was with us, too. Flora and her classmate huddled together over her DSi at the restaurant, and giggled about stuff (and picked at their lunches). Kate didn’t seem to mind very much. She wasn’t too wild or whiny, and she ate quite well.

Once we got home, something changed. The classmate didn’t want to do what Flora wanted to do; Flora didn’t want to do with the classmate wanted to do; and suddenly, the classmate and Kate were playing together more.

This didn’t sit well with Flora. As you can imagine. Dan and I were left managing our older daughter’s emotions about the situation.

The second example was less about what happened on the playdate, than what happened before. I actually know why I got blowback on this one. I had committed the girls to a playdate and sleepover, and, frankly, they didn’t want to go. It had nothing to do with the little girl (who is between Kate and Flora in age; she’s in first grade, and isn’t a classmate, but a neighbor); it had to do with activity burnout (we are terribly busy), the weather (they wanted to hunker down with me and Dan), and the fact that *I* had committed them to something without asking. So I know how to deal with that in the future.

After asking them to please do me this favor, go on this playdate, they did agree to, and they did seem to have a good time. They came home Sunday excited about the neighbor’s Xbox and hopped up on Sour Patch Kids. The condition was that I wouldn’t commit them to such things in the future without asking. They can say no. I think that’s pretty fair.

I’m not sure *what* to do in the first scenario. Stop having playdates, of course, is an option. I don’t invite kids over so that I have another little person to supervise. I actually am open to playdates to reduce the number of children I have to supervise — my assumption being that two or three little people will play together, and I will have one or two children to supervise or occupy. That day, I was thinking of stuff to do with Kate while Flora and her classmate played games or something. When that didn’t happen I was caught quite flatfooted.

Of course, there are logistical difficulties in our house right now. We are engaged in demolishing and rebuilding our basement (a project we expect to take months) to turn it into one large area, a great deal of it set aside for our children (and their toys). So the girls can play in their room (which I’m okay with as long as there’s no bed jumping — which, fat chance), or in the front room (where all the toys and the TV are now), or in the kitchen at the table. If M is awake, they like to go to their room… and close the door, which, again, I can’t blame them for. M has to learn that the girls have their own space and he doesn’t have to be included in all their activities.

I also understand that sometimes three is a crowd, that it’s easier or more desirable sometimes to just play with two rather than three. I see this with my daughters all the time. (Does this happen with boys? Is it an age thing? Kate and Flora are only 27 months apart.) When Niece comes over, sometimes tempers flare when all three girls aren’t on the same page — worse when two are and one is left out. I’m not sure if there’s anything to do about this except to tell the one to deal with it and/or offer an alternative activity.

Do you do playdates? Are you good at them? Any advice or commiseration for this mom?

Thinking Aloud: Young Faith

As I mentioned yesterday, Flora is going to be receiving her First Holy Communion this spring.

This is an exciting time is the evolution of her faith, although, let’s face it: She probably doesn’t know that yet.

Confession (ha!): I don’t remember my first reconciliation (commonly known as confession or penance) or my First Holy Communion. I do remember a set of children’s Bibles I got at the time (Old Testament and New Testament, naturally). I read the heck out of those Bibles. They were written to my level, and they were GREAT stories.

As most 7 and 8 years olds do, Flora has a pretty simple, straightforward view of God and religion. Her faith is absolute. God exists (probably because Mom and Dad and most of the other people she knows say God exists), and being bad gets you in trouble. Be good so you don’t get in trouble. (This probably goes for more than just spiritually.)

Before she receives First Holy Communion, Flora will receive her first reconciliation. Right now, I’m pretty focused on making that anxiety-free for her. It’s tricky. She’s 8. It’s not as if she has a lot of major sins on her plate to confess. I don’t remember being anxious about it — but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t. (Mom, Dad, any memories of this?)

When they had the parents’ meeting about reconciliation, they had some tips about it. There was also a nifty historical lesson by our deacon that I enjoyed. My Catholic school days are far behind me, and if I knew some of the stuff he talked about, I had forgotten it.

I plan to talk to Flora about confession, and how it’s meant to make her closer to God. I’m not going to focus on the “everyone’s a sinner” aspect of religion at this point. One of the ideas I had was to run through the Ten Commandments with her, and have her base her confession on them.

The deacon talked about the Seven Deadlies, but I think those are too advanced for Flora. “Sins,” he said, “are the perversion of natural needs and desires.” (I’m paraphrasing, but it was an interesting way to look at sin.) Hence the Ten Commandments idea.

I don’t want these sacraments to provoke anxiety in Flora. I don’t want her to hear, “You are bad, and this is why you have to do this.” Being closer to God is an occasion of joy.

As part of her preparation for these sacraments, I have been working harder to take her to Mass each Sunday. (Confession: I don’t make Mass every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation. Confession: I need to go to confession.) For one, because it’s important for me to go to Mass. For two, because it’s important that I set a good example for Flora. And for three, because it’s important that Flora learn that it’s about more than sitting there being bored. Mass gives us a structure in which to offer ourselves to God (in thanks, in despair, in need, in hope).

At some point (well, I hope), Flora will realize why Mass is important, why religion and faith are important in general. And it’s not that we practice our faith or are good people because if we don’t we’re “bad” and we will be punished.

As faithful adults, we go to church, and obey the commandments, and are in general good, moral, and ethical people because we love God. We want to do what pleases and glorifies him — not for us, and not so we don’t go to Hell — but because we love him.

Please note, I am not saying you have to be religious to be a good, moral, and ethical person. There are plenty of crappy religious people (who are probably depending too much on the “But I believe in God!” strategy to get them through) and lots of very kind and good agnostic and atheist people. The absence of religion doesn’t make you a terrible person; the practice of religion by itself doesn’t make you a good person.

For me (and I’ve said it before), my Catholic faith and its practice is a source of peace and strength. I have my issues with the Catholic church. But the core message of love that I get from Jesus and God is worth the struggles with their representatives on Earth.

Do you remember your First Holy Communion or Reconciliation? How are you going to help your kids understand them (if you have kids)?

This Week’s Hard Thing

Flora is receiving her First Holy Communion this year.

Dan and I attended a meeting regarding Reconciliation (the sacrament that comes before Holy Communion). Glancing over the page of dates, I felt a little drop seeing Saturday April 27 as the day of her event.

We usually go to Cook Forest the last weekend in April, and we had been scheduled to do it this year, too.

And now we’re not going to. I’m a little sad. My Twitter friend @SecretAgentL tweeted: “Remember, Jesus trumps vacation. :-)”


I’ve been going to Cook Forest on and off since my mid-20s, with college-era friends. The last time I didn’t go, Kate was a newborn. Dan stayed home with M when he was a newborn, and I went up with the girls.

Ah, well, as my friend Jen says (not on Twitter, on the phone), “The great thing about Cook Forest is there’s always next year!”

I know it’s also a bummer for Jen, who is Flora’s godmother. But we can arrange for her to do something special to acknowledge the rite of passage at a different time. (Jen is the reason that Cook Forest happens at all; she cannot bail!) Dan and I haven’t told the kids yet. Michael doesn’t know what’s going on yet, anyway (last year was his first trip to CF); Flora will probably be sad but copacetic; Kate’s probably going to hate it. Maybe we won’t say anything until they ask.

What do you do when two big things in your life conflict?

Meatless Monday: Two Quickies

A coworker made these vegan mushroom tarts for a Food Day we had before the holidays. They are easy and tasty. I made them to bring to Christmas dinner at my brother and sister-in-laws, and they were completely gobbled up.

Plus, when you put the puff pastry in the muffin tins, it automatically makes them look really pretty.

Mushroom Tarts
1 or 1 1/2 pounds assorted mushrooms (I used 8 oz of baby bella and 4 oz of assorted specialty mushrooms — oyster, shitake, cremini)
1/2 medium onion, sliced
4 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Balsamic vinegar
2 sheets of puff pastry (I used Trader Joe’s)

Saute the onion in the butter and oil over medium heat for 30 to 45 minutes.

Add sliced mushrooms, and let every thing cook down for about 15 to 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and add a splash or two of balsamic vinegar.

Refrigerate the mushroom mixture, anywhere from 1 hour to overnight, depending on how much time you have.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Thaw the sheets of puff pastry. Cut into squares and put into muffin tins. Place a spoonful of mushroom mixture in the middle of each puff pastry square. Bake for 15-20 minutes (keep an eye that the puff pastry isn’t getting too brown).

This recipe made 18 tarts. When I make it again, I may drop a dollop of goat cheese on top of them when they come right out of the oven.


I am getting winter boxes from my CSA; one box every two weeks. As you might imagine, they are full of root vegetables, so my experimentation with those continues. (Also, I have squash, potatoes, and beets for you, SIL!)

Since I had two bags of beautiful carrots, I went looking around for a soup recipe.

Curried Carrot Soup
Adapted from The Food Network

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 medium onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut into 1- or 2-inch pieces
4 cups vegetarian stock
Sour cream

In medium pot over medium heat, add olive oil, butter and onions; cook for 20-30 minutes.

Add carrots and saute 5 minutes. Add curry powder and cinnamon and saute for 1 minute. Add 4 cups vegetarian stock, and about 1 teaspoon salt to the pot. Bring to a boil, cover and cook until carrots are very tender, about 15 minutes.

Use an immersion blender to puree the soup. If the soup is too thick, add remaining stock, up to 2 cups, to achieve desired consistency. Adjust seasonings.

(I haven’t tried it with the sour cream and chives, but hey, it looks pretty.) Place sour cream in a plastic condiment squeeze bottle or into a medium food storage bag. Cut a very small hole in the corner of the bag with scissors. Ladle soup into bowls and squirt a swirl of sour cream around the bowl from the center out to the rim. Drag a toothpick from the center of the bowls out to the edges, forming a spider web design on soup. Pile a few pieces of cut chives at the center of each bowl to resemble green spiders in their webs.


This soup is spicier than I thought it would be, but I plan on eating every bite. I’ll probably try it with a dollop of sour cream (lots of dollops here today), but since I’m not trying to impress anyone with it, I won’t make the pretty spider web pattern.

Readers, I have turnips. What the heck do I do with turnips? Aside from mashing them with some potatoes. I know that trick.

Thinking Aloud: Gun Control

I read Josh Marshall’s editorial at Talking Points Memo yesterday, about what he calls “his tribe” that is, people who don’t carry guns and are, unabashedly, non-gun people. It’s worth a read.

A sample: “I think guns are kind of scary and don’t want to be around them. Yes, plenty of people have them and use them safely. And I have no problem with that. But remember, handguns especially are designed to kill people.”

I talked about this in the immediate aftermath of Newtown myself. A lot of what Marshall talks about in his article — in sum, how he rejects the idea that gun culture can run roughshod over non-gun people like him in the name of the 2nd Amendment — hit home for me.

I shot guns occasionally. I was a Girl Scout, and pretty good with the .22 rifles we used to shoot cans. As an adult, a boyfriend and I shot skeet (pretty fun, and I was pretty good at that, too), and at a target range. I fired an AK-47 (the AR-15 of the ’90s). It was hot. I was 24.

I briefly dated a man who had a permit to conceal carry. And he did, as I discovered the first time I was kissing him. Explained the way he wore t-shirts under very baggy flannels (he wasn’t into grunge, so that wasn’t why). Walking me home later that night, he said, “Don’t you feel safe knowing I have a gun on me?”

No, I said. No, I don’t feel safe at all, actually.

We didn’t go on another date.

Fast forward to where we are in America today. Some days, I feel like going to buy a gun, use it to practice at the target range near my house. You know, for the zombie apocalypse. I would probably store it off site — I don’t want a gun in my home, not as long as my children are young.

Most days, I don’t want a own a gun. Most days, I don’t care about gun owning either way. I do think most of the gun owners I know (even the conceal carry guy I walked home with that evening) are perfectly responsible gun owners, well within their rights to own guns.

But it’s gotten out of control, the gun culture in America. Like Josh Marshall, I don’t want to live in a high-fear, mutual assured deterrence kind of society. And I don’t think all the guns have to go away.

But some of them do. And some people should not be able to get guns. And some kinds of ammunition should not be available to the general public.

I support the gun control measures that Vice President Biden (I’m an unabashed fan of his, as I’ve said) and President Obama proposed earlier this week. (The only part of it that gives me pause are the HIPAA provisions; I need to hear more about those.) As Biden put in in his email to me (I know!), “Each of them honors the rights of law-abiding, responsible Americans to bear arms. Some of them will require action from Congress; the President is acting on others immediately. But they’re all commonsense and will help make us a little safer.”

If now is not the time to talk about this, to move on this, then I don’t know when is.

Deep Thought of the Day

If you were the kind of person to judge a book by its cover, so to speak, what kind of book would I be?

How I got here: I have a coworker who, if I judged him by his cover, I would label an aging hippie, in a positive way — he’s friendly, smiles a lot, wears Hawaiian shirts. I don’t know that he is; I don’t know anything about him. He works in a different department. He looks kind of like Jerry Garcia. Only cleaner. (Sorry, Grateful Dead fans.)

I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about what people think about me. I spend almost no time *worrying* about what people think about me. This isn’t necessarily a virture; my husband points that out regularly.

But I just wondered as I was walking around this place that I spend so much fricking time — 40 hours a week! — what people see.

And if I knew what that was, would I want to change it.

Incidentally and as a reference point, this is how I generally look:



(Only with less red eye.)

Do you judge people by their appearances? Do you worry that people judge you by your appearance?

Music Monday: Gangnam Style

I’m late to the party on “Gangnam Style”, but man, I am getting caught up on it. My girls, of course, are fascinated by it, and we heard it redone on a Glee soundtrack, so it refreshed their interest. And finally piqued mine.

Aside: It’s hard to pick music to listen to with my kids. At 6 and 8, they are past the Laurie Berkner stage (no offense to Berkner, but thank goodness). They still like They Might Be Giants’ kid stuff, which is entertaining (I like the 123s best), but they are ready for pop music, and for the most part, pop music blows (and/or has an inappropriate subject matter). Over the Christmas season, I discovered the Glee Christmas albums (I don’t watch the show, know almost nothing about it), and they became favorites. So I turned to their regular albums for their versions of pop songs.

Anyway: Gangnam Style, by Psy, a South Korean artist. You’ve probably heard it by now (and if you haven’t you should check out the video on YouTube — warning, the song, despite being sung in Korean, is catchy as hell.) Apparently, the grade-school rumor is that Psy uses *gasp!* Korean swear words! (None of the articles I’ve read mention anything to this effect.)

But my kids’ interest in the song plus a bit on a Slate podcast put me on the road to learning more about it.

My favorite fact about “Gangnam Style”: It’s satire. And not very subtle satire either. Gangnam is a very tony Korean neighborhood. The singer is bragging that he leads a Gangnam-style life, but the video clearly makes fun of what that means. (You really should check out the video. It’s pretty brilliant.)

My two sources: An Atlantic article dissecting the song, based, to a certain extent, on a blog post from My Dear Korea. (The blogger follows up with her thoughts on the Atlantic piece as well. Incisive.) The My Dear Korea piece is worth a visit for the version of the video that includes English subtitles.

Anyway, as I’ve mentioned before, I become easily obsessed with music. I’m glad I stumbled onto these social commentaries and critiques of Gangnam Style, mostly because, since it’s in a foreign language, there was no way to put my own spin on it (for myself or my kids). It was fun to explain to Flora and Kate what the song was about. And also disabuse them of the notion that Korean swear words were in there.

What’s your current musical obsession?

Quandary: The Follow-Up

To review: Kate was acting sick in the morning. I suspected it had something to do with Classmate. I didn’t know what to do. (And THANK YOU to everyone who weighed in on that post.)

This is what happened since I wrote that.

1. I emailed Kate’s teacher Mrs. M about the situation. She emailed back saying she had noticed Kate dragging herself into the school, but said once she got into the classroom, all was fine. She proposed we meet to talk about Kate.

2. I ran into Mrs. M at Flora’s violin concert. I will tell you right upfront: I did not want to drag Classmate’s name into it directly. Maybe see if she was having issues in general with her classmates or something like that. I had no intention of even mentioning Classmate if I didn’t have to.

3. Mrs. M mentioned Classmate right off the bat, and said she noticed the two girls were having conflict. So that was out in the open.

4. Mrs. M and I did finally get together this week to talk about this issue, and to talk about what we need to do moving forward.

Here’s the upshot:

(I’m paraphrasing Mrs. M here) Kate is a bright and social child. She gets along with everyone and is very well liked in her class. She gravitates toward Classmate because Classmate is also bright and well liked. However, Classmate is also melodramatic and knows the fine art of manipulation. She is mature beyond her years — she’s kind of had to grow up fast.

(To review, again, Classmate is the child of divorced parents who do NOT get along. Her father has remarried and has another child with Classmate’s stepmother. The women do not hide their antipathy toward each other, and the mother… when she talks about her ex-husband, I cringe. I wonder if she talks about him like that in front of Classmate, and I wonder how her current husband takes it. This sounds all gossipy, and I don’t mean to be gossipy, but this is all directly affecting my daughter, and this is my blog, so there ya go.)

(Paraphrasing, again) Mrs. M said she keeps a close eye on all the children in her classroom, and will be sure to watch interactions between Kate and Classmate. She says that when Classmate seems to be getting dramatic (in general), she tries to step in and stop it. She also has been working hard to keep the girls occupied in activities not with each other. If there’s group work, for example, she doesn’t put them in the same group. As a matter of fact, she told me about a time where she distinctly put Classmate and Kate in two different groups on purpose, and somehow they managed to team up anyway. So she’s going to watch out for that.

Here’s my take: Yes, Kate is bright, and Kate is social. Kate is also a little sister, and as such, I think she tends to take a follower role rather than a leader role. She’s not very alpha, in other words. Which is not to paint my Kate as a doormat or wallflower — oh, no. She is incredibly energetic and outgoing. I think I mentioned that recently. She likes to be with people, and she likes to be with people who attract other people. There’s also the dynamic between Flora and Kate that Kate is probably used to. You know, the bickering dynamic. While Flora and Kate *can* play very nicely together, they don’t *choose* to play nicely together all the time. Probably not even half the time, frankly. There is also the fact that Kate lives in a safe, stable, and loving home environment with little serious conflict. As such, she doesn’t have (or need yet) street smarts the way Classmate does.

While Mrs. M keeps an eye on things in the classroom, I will keep an eye on things at home. I plan to check in with Kate often. We have ground rules for going to school, even when Kate feels sick (in short, if she’s not running a temperature, she’s going).

For the record, I believe that Kate *is* sick, so to speak. I’m sure some mornings her stomach is churning and her head hurts. She’s having anxiety about going to school sometimes. It’s actually pretty normal, probably, to be anxious about going to school. She’s got to learn to deal with it, with support from me and her dad. And she has to know we’re on her side. I talked to her about my talk with Mrs. M. I talked to her about talking to Mrs. M and me if she has a problem with Classmate (or any classmate for that matter). At home, I try to treat the girls fairly, and I try to give each of the kids a little bit of individual attention. Even if it’s just five minutes a night, focused attention seems to help them.

I hope I handled everything okay, and I hope I continue to. What do you think, readers? Did I do all right? Anything else I should have my finger on going forward, so to speak?

Dear People of the World: Don’t Do This

People behave pretty appallingly. I don’t know if I was generally ignorant of this trend in the past, or if the Internet (and, okay, the advice column I’m addicted to, Dear Prudence at has made it apparent how horrid some people are.

Here’s a short list of shit that people really shouldn’t do (and if you know people who are thinking of doing any of these things, stop them).

1. Endless pregnancy/baby related celebrations. Women have been having babies for millennia. No one should ever:
a. post a picture of their positive pregnancy test to the Internet or social media.
b. have a sonogram/ultrasound party OR a gender-reveal party. It’s just not that important (to anyone but the parents-to-be).
c. have baby showers past baby one. I mean, I guess if it’s been six or ten or fifteen years between babies, more than one baby shower is understandable. But a shower for each baby? No. Overkill. Don’t do it.


3. Speaking of weddings: The Bridezillas of the world have got to be stopped, people. It’s out of hand. Parents of the world, do not raise daughters to believe that their wedding is the most special day of their lives and they have carte blanche to demand that EVERYONE KOWTOW to their every wish. Grooms-to-be, if your formerly sweet girlfriend (now your fiancee) whom you loves turns into someone unrecognizable while planning her wedding, sit her down for a long talk. (Or a short one: Stop it.)

For a short list of things not to do if you are a bride, please see this Gawker article for samples from the Most Demanding Bride Ever.

So many flavors of wrong.

4. Do not ask perfect strangers (or passing acquaintances) nosy questions regarding their child-bearing plans, their pregnancies, their pending labors and deliveries, and/or how (or if) they plan to raise their children. It’s not your business, and you aren’t entitled to know whether or not the mother-to-be is going to opt for an epidural. Unless you had a hand in making that baby, or are the medical professional involved in prenatal care for that baby, don’t ask. MYOB.

5. No one should be in the delivery room except whomever the birthing mother wants to be in the delivery room. No one should ask (or demand) to be in the delivery room. That baby is not going to know (or care) who is there (excepting, probably, its mom, and even then it’s not like a conscious-type “want”, KWIM?). The parents, however, will remember who was a jerk about wanting to be in the delivery room.

6. Do not inform people they have been unfriended or that they are not invited to your upcoming Very Special Celebration. It’s just not nice. If someone is not invited to your wedding, for instance, there is no need to send them an announcement that they will not be invited to your wedding.

6b. Don’t assume you’re invited to someone’s wedding. If you are Facebook friends with people from high school or college, but haven’t talked to them IRL in five years? You’re probably not going to be invited to their wedding. It’s okay. If you’re out drinking with the groom-to-be, and he says, “Hey, man, are you coming to my wedding?” but then you don’t get a paper invite? You’re not invited. It’s okay.

6c. Don’t demand that your children (or grandchildren) be allowed to attend someone else’s wedding. If you want to have kids at your wedding? Go right ahead. Not everyone is as generous as you. (I say this as a person who did not invite the majority of children from my family to my wedding — I have a lot of second cousins who were young when I married 11 years ago.)

7. (This is the one that’s possibly going to hurt some feelings.) Don’t expect everyone to celebrate your birthday with you. If you are over the age of, oh, 18 to 21, the days of “birthday parties” are over.

I say this as a person who enjoys her birthday every year. It’s my day. I believe in celebrating your birthday — it’s your day! Just don’t expect the world to stop and fete you. Those days are gone. Make your own celebration. Treat yourself. And if people offer to 1. take you to dinner or out for drinks or 2. bring you cake, graciously accept. But don’t expect it as your due.

8. Don’t text and drive. I mean, I know everyone knows this. Except the people who think THEY can text and drive, but no one else should. Put the phone down for the drive. It’s okay. You can check your tweets/emails/texts when you park your car.

9. Don’t conflate chastity and celibacy. (All right, this is less about behavior and more of a pet peeve of mine.) Celibacy is a vow to not marry; chastity is a vow not to have sex. Now, in the Catholic church, priests take a vow of celibacy — that is, they vow they will not marry with the understanding that sex outside of marriage is a mortal sin. It’s not breaking their vows, but it’s sinful. Catholics nuns, on the other hand, are sybolically married to Jesus, and they vow to remain chaste, that is, not have sex at all. You can personally vow to not marry or to remain chaste (or both), but don’t declare that you’re “taking a vow of celibacy” if you don’t want to have meaningless sexual encounters (anymore).

10. I guess, to get to the point (too late! haha): it’s not all about you. We need to remember that, while our lives are important to us (and our children are important to us, where applicable), they are not as vitally important to everyone else. Heck, my life isn’t the center of my parents’ lives even (anymore)! And that’s okay.

If we can, we should gently remind others that’s it’s not all about them. I don’t know if it’s helicopter parenting, the Internet and social media, reality television, or the unholy intersection of these factors that lead to this awful expectation of me-type entitlement, but honestly. Let’s all step back a little bit, take a deep breath, and be real. Let’s not behave appallingly. Let’s choose kindness. (h/t Wonder, by R.J. Palacio)

What do you see people regularly doing that you wish they would just stop?