My Top Ten Pieces of Parenting Advice


  • I know all this free-range business is giving you new parents something to stress about, because your instinct is to hold up your precious William’s little bottom on the playscape so he doesn’t fall and free-rangers are all “let-him rip! Skin up those knees! You’re a nerdball-helicopter-control-freak if you watch your child run across the field!” Whatever, ladies. Chill the heck out and watch him as long as it feels comfortable.
  • Over the weekend our neighbors had a party and my children felt like swimming at 7 pm. They begged to return home for swimsuits. Naturally, I said no because I am a responsible parent. Thus, I continued to visit with grown-ups and ate more barbeque tacos. I then saw my children giggling and gathering up more children like they were ring leaders of a pre-school prison gang and they all decided to enter the hot tub in mass in their FULL ON CLOTHING. I stood looking at them like “Well, I could intervene, but I’m sitting here eating tacos.” So strike that on free range. It’s really quite lovely. Embrace disobedience in the name of creative exploration.
  • The other day my son had his 5th birthday party and another mom was like “this is the very first time my son has ever had soda in a can.” I sat there stunned, like “Seriously? The very first time? And this monumental event occurred at my house?” She spent five long years pushing watered-down fruit juice and all of a sudden here’s soda. I didn’t know if I should be proud of her or humiliated that I was letting kids slurp on Country Time Lite. It even had fake sugar, which means all these kids will get cancer and it’s on my head. OMG what have I done. But then I told myself to relax. We hardly ever drink these things. Curb the comparisons. Remember this if you want to have a Dora-the-Exploror party and Pinterest would scoff at your lack of creativity or absence of milk bottles with paper straws or you serve oreo’s instead of peppers with hummus. It’s fine. Little Mackenzie doesn’t even like peppers.
  • It’s raining and flooding here like the days of Noah so my children have had a ball with the cardboard house I let them make in the living room. Which is cool for a day but then the requests are like “can we eat our fried eggs in the little house?” and “can we sleep in the little house?” and “can we make furniture for this stupid little house and haul in all the leftover cans and milk cartons to the complete exhaustion of your sanity?” Kids, unless this little house comes with a housekeeper it’s being torn down on Sunday afternoon.   Then they cry and say you’re a horrible mother and how can they possibly live without this house/fort stuck together with duct tape filled with egg cartons. I’m not sure what advice I have for you on matters like this except that tomorrow they’ll move on to something else, so bake brownies.
  • There’s loads of guilt for not volunteering at school. Stop it with the guilt. I’m working full time so I usually volunteer for things like “napkins” and “games at the holiday party” and leave the lunch helpers to other mothers who really want to sit there with 20 or so loud children. And when I forget to bring snacks I’m that mom that shows up with a bag of carrots and a bottle of dressing, which shows my obvious effort, and when I forget my son’s blanket or pillow I’m like “somehow figure this out, people/surely you guys have a beach towel around this place that will work.” Now this might seem cruel to you, but from one mother to another I’m telling you your kid doesn’t mind eating carrots on a napkin or covering up for one stinking day with a towel. And if he or she minds, you have bigger problems. Come to my house and I’ll give them a soda.
  • Eating vegetables is an age-old battle. They have magical stomachs that can’t possibly stuff down one more green bean and yet there’s a reservoir for ice cream that never overflows. My suggestion is to simply tell them they have to eat their vegetables or no dessert, no matter the fact that sautéed spinach makes them gag or roasted beets taste like the bottom of a shoe or they’d rather starve until September than eat one more asparagus. You simply must never give in or show any emotion and treat dessert like an ex-boyfriend you don’t even give any second of thought to anymore. Then when they get smart and say “well I don’t want that stupid strawberry ice cream anyhow” you can bribe them with leftover Halloween candy. I’ve also heard statements like “EAT THAT STUPID KALE OR I’M TAKING AWAY TV TOMORROW FOR THE LOVE YOU ARE DRIVING ME MAD” may work on a pinch if you’re on your way to basketball practice in ten minutes.
  • Let’s discuss making beds. I think it’s stupid because we just get back into them in a day’s time so I’m the worst person to give advice in this area. My house always looks like it’s been broken into and the burglars took long naps.
  • I will point out, because I’m feeling like a bad mother making my kid eat vegetables and cover up with towels, that one particular year I didn’t bring carrots for snacks but instead followed a very detailed pinterest design. It involved making pencils for the beginning of the year out of cheese sticks, pieces of pepperoni, and bugle chips. I jubilantly hauled them to school to showcase my amazing mothering and my daughter was like “really mom? Do you have to walk these in?” So the lesson here is Pinterest is stupid and your kids care more about a love note written on a day-old napkin and stuffed in their lunch next to a cheese sandwich.
  • Get them all off devices. It robs them of all creativity and imagination. But then again, your house is a wreck, you have forts and books and roly poly collections and worm farms, so maybe limited device time is better than you becoming an alcoholic. So PBS and Little House on the Prairie only. Maybe a few others. Only once a day, maybe twice. Oh what do I know I’m such a pushover.
  • Honestly I don’t know what advice to give, except that reading to your children is never a waste of time, even when you’re bone tired, and never, ever, ever, withhold love. Love until your arms are sore. Love when they throw things and say they hate you. Love when they leave and say they will never come home. Love until your last dying breath. Love like nothing else has any hope of working, and when you feel all worn out just love some more.

We’ll see if it works out in the end, unmade beds and all.




Cable is evil. And I love it.

We are living in a quirky old rental while our house is being remodeled. The original place was a single room built in the 1800s with walls eighteen inches thick.  The owners and their forefathers kept adding onto that one room, with bedrooms and bathrooms popping from one single hallway like a branch sprouting new shoots.  To go from the bedroom to the kitchen for a drink of water requires running shoes, and there are light switches in strange places that, instead of turning on a light, actually fire up a heater or turn on an attic fan.  I still can’t muster up the courage to head down into the basement.  My dad went.  He said it was creepy.  But I can’t imagine a more perfect place.  My children now think of it as “the 1826 house” like we just picked up and moved there.  The landlords live about ten feet away in a house adjoined with a breezeway, and they are lovely people.  I brought the landlady so much pumpkin bread that she finally had to tell me to stop because she has a gluten allergy.

The most perfect thing about our rental is not the fact that it has a dug-out basement or that it’s quite possibly haunted or that almost every room has a different type of flooring.  It’s not the grand piano or the fact that the décor contains a large amount of arrowheads or that one bedroom in the house is actually referred to as “the Africa Room” due to the collection of safari memorabilia. The coolest thing is contained within the confines of a little blue cord.  Cable. I am in awe of this majestic invention of technology that we do not possess in our actual home.

Cable is something strange and foreign to the Hill clan, and we all gather around the television like cave men, pounding upon the box with clubs and beating our chests with glee.  It causes the Hill leaders to lose sleep and feel compelled to watch long Iron Chef marathons.  After all – we have a civic duty to see what the hype is all about regarding drunken women in New Jersey whose names sound like baby blankets.

I have grown so attached to the food network that I’ve become irrationally inspired.  I see the way chefs manage to put together entire meals from wheat flour, peas, and fresh tuna, and I feel that despite my lack of formal training I, too, could whip up a soufflé if my life depended on it in thirty minutes.  Because it’s a temporary living arrangement, we didn’t haul our entire spice rack over to our new pad, so the only two spices that reside in our rental kitchen are cumin and cinnamon.  But as you know, if you watch the food network, this should not be a deterrent. With cinnamon, some black truffles, goat milk, and a Wolf range, dessert is so completely done!

So the other night, when I’m staring into the refrigerator, I see sausage, leftover rice, and remembered we had a can of black beans in the pantry.  That’s it! I can make a killer Mexican Jumbalaya! After all, we have Cumin.  So what if I’m mixing cultures? Chefs do those things all the time, people.  Think Asian fusion.

My husband came home and I mentioned that we would be dining on Mexican Jumbalaya and tamales, along with some Italian beer and Halloween candy for dessert.  Suddenly, I hear myself speaking. I realize cable has rotted my brain.  Who put this menu together, anyway? Later that night, my daughter was speaking into a fake camera that’s located somewhere in the imaginary world she lives in.  She’s telling the people in television land exactly how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, going into painstaking detail for the television audience about how to slather on the jelly without it dripping.  Then she broke for commercials.

When we move back home, we will not have cable. I haven’t read a book in a month, my daughter is now dreaming of being a TV personality, and I’m inundated with thoughts of buying a hybrid car and a Vitamix.  But I will miss cable, that fancy modern invention, broadcast among the arrowheads in our 1826 home.   Rich housewives and fancy chefs will just have to plod on without this household of viewers.  We’re heading back to the dark ages.  To the days of flipping through magazines and checking our email on our iphones.  Reading books and watching NOVA on public television.  Somehow, some way, we’ll muddle through.