And you could actually do that?" Marina, a friend who lives in California, looked up from her burger in surprise.

"Sure. Of course. Why not?"

"My kids go to public school but it has such a long waiting list that if you miss three days without a written excuse, like a doctor's note, you lose your place."

Marina and I, with some other writers, were in a small noisy pub in Berkeley talking about the conference we had just attended, work, and kids. Berkeley was the last stop in a whirlwind tour I was on &

two weeks of travel writing with my three kids in tow.

We went to Atlanta, Boston, and Savannah and our "job" was to do fun things for kids and write about it. Despite our adventure being exhausting and except for the day I cancelled my meeting with a PR guy from CNN because my 3-year-old needed a nap, the trip was a huge success. Whale-watching and a ride in a WWI amphibious vehicle in Boston, a trip to the Kangaroo Conservation Center in the North Georgia mountains, an ankle-dip in the warm ocean at the beach at Tybee Island near Savannah. What could be more fun?

We had picnics every day to save money and visited friends and family back East in between seeing the "points of interest" that I needed to write about for my job. But most importantly, I was spending all day every day with my kids, and getting paid for it.

I didn't have to bring them. None of their travel was paid for and our two weeks away meant they missed ten days of school. But it seemed silly to write about family-friendly travel and not bring my family. Plus, my older girls spend so many hours in school these days and I've been so busy writing lately that I've been missing them.

But not everyone thought it was a good decision to take my children out of school.

"My daughter cannot miss school," my older brother, whose children are slightly younger than mine, said when I was trying to make plans for his family to meet mine in Boston and I invited him to spend the day with us on Friday (on the docket: the Children's Museum, the Mapparium at the Christian Science Church, the Prudential Sky Walk, and Jasper White's Summer Shack for dinner and ice cream).

"It would just be one day," I said

"Absolutely not." Zach bristled. "Under no circumstances. I can't believe you'd even suggest it. We. Don't. Miss. School."

I hung up feeling terrible. Zach's implied criticism was clear. Was I making a mistake? Would my kids really be better off in school? Is it so important for kids to have a routine that you shouldn't break it, even for a chance to visit the Botanical Garden in Atlanta, go on a haunted trolley tour in Savannah, and ride the T in Boston?

When we got back I caught a bad head cold. Horribly jetlagged with my fingers aching from so much writing, I scrambled to make deadline. But both girls skipped in the door after their first day back at school, full of energy, with lots to tell us about their day.

"Mommy, can we go there again?" my 3-year-old son asked that night at dinner.


"Duh. To that place what has the big white bear and you can drink all those different kinds of poocha poochas?"

"You mean the Coca Cola Museum in Atlanta?"

"Yeah! That place! Can we? Tomorrow?!"

Marina had a look of longing in her eyes when she told me the rules about not missing school. I think I made the right decision taking the kids along. As my daughter's favorite teacher wrote in an e-mail: "Sounds like your brother needs to get a grip. It's school v. travel. And elementary school at that!"

is the editor of "Toddler" (Seal Press), an award-winning book that was banned from a sale at Lincoln School. She's also the author of "Why Babies Do That" (Willow Creek Press) and co-author of a new book, "The Baby Bonding Book for Dads" (Willow Creek Press), due out this Spring.