Here are some things I read this week that made me think. (These are just snippets – click on the title to read the whole thing.)

“Between the failed attempts to sneak some grown-up alone time and the pressure to make Pinterest-worthy valentines for every single one of your kids’ classmates, it’s hard to feel the romance around February 14.”

A few favorites:

– “I think my son is really going to appreciate me secretly adding, “LOVE YA SWEET CHEEKS!” to all his valentines for the kids in his class.”
– “Does my daughter have to give a vday card to the kid who said “I will put catnip in your mouth when my dad is not looking and make you cry”?”
– “Me: Valentine’s Day is coming up. 4-year-old: Is that the one with Leprechauns? Me: No. 4: Not interested.”

“My hope: I want a pro-choice situation for last names. Instead of a given, how about a conversation between parents? Maybe someone wants a cohesive family name; maybe someone wants to honor a great-grandmother or grandfather; maybe someone wants to shed a last name and join a new family; maybe someone wants to give their child four last names and let the child pick at 18 years old. I don’t know. Something. Anything. Just not a given.”

“By the mid-1990s, the Bzeeks decided to specifically care for terminally ill children who had do-not-resuscitate orders because no one else would take them in.

There was the boy with short-gut syndrome who was admitted to the hospital 167 times in his eight-year life. He could never eat solid food, but the Bzeeks would sit him at the dinner table, with his own empty plate and spoon, so he could sit with them as a family.

There was the girl with the same brain condition as Bzeek’s current foster daughter, who lived for eight days after they brought her home. She was so tiny that when she died a doll maker made an outfit for her funeral. Bzeek carried her coffin in his hands like a shoe box.”

“When my own daughter, a precocious and inquisitive 5-year-old at the time, asked me what the word ‘politics’ meant I told her they were rules. When I later told her she was too young to understand politics she made me eat my words when she said, ‘But, I understand RULES, momma.’

…We parents still have all the autonomy in the world to encourage our children to become involved. Whether you’re taking your son or daughter to a local protest event (safe for children, of course) or they listen as you contact your representatives, the best mode of getting them involved is using their own voices.”

The 30 Cheapest Places To Travel In 2017 from Laura with Forbes

“Eat your way through historic Hanoi, kayak in the emerald waters of Halong Bay or relax in ancient Hoi An and the nearby beaches. There are clean, safe accommodations to fit everyone’s wallet. In Hanoi, my favorite is the Tirant Hotel, near the old town, where you can bag a room for less than $70 a night. Don’t miss the Hanoi street food tour: For just $20 per person, a guide will lead you on foot or by scooter through backstreets, markets and footpaths. You will eat like the locals and learn the names and ingredients in the dishes so you can order them again. And be sure to take the time to sip a bowl of steaming “pho” noodle soup in restaurants, push carts and food stalls, where a street meal and a beer can cost the same as a caramel macchiato at Starbucks.”

How Iceland Got Teens to Say No to Drugs: Curfews, sports, and understanding kids’ brain chemistry have all helped dramatically curb substance abuse in the country. by Emma with The Atlantic

“Today, Iceland tops the European table for the cleanest-living teens. The percentage of 15- and 16-year-olds who had been drunk in the previous month plummeted from 42 percent in 1998 to 5 percent in 2016. The percentage who have ever used cannabis is down from 17 percent to 7 percent. Those smoking cigarettes every day fell from 23 percent to just 3 percent.

The way the country has achieved this turnaround has been both radical and evidence-based, but it has relied a lot on what might be termed enforced common sense. “This is the most remarkably intense and profound study of stress in the lives of teenagers that I have ever seen,” says Milkman. “I’m just so impressed by how well it is working.”