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The Missing Sock Epidemic

Hidden deep in the warmth of your clothes dryer — along with that giant ball of fuzz — he lurks. His sole mission to slowly steal away your socks. And your sanity. Do you doubt his existence? Are you a non-believer? Well then explain to me how come every time I go to dress my son or one of my daughters why I can never find any socks?! Correction: Why I can never find a matching pair of socks? Did a sock get dropped on the way from the dryer to the clothes drawer? Did my daughter play sock basketball and lose a sock under her bed? Maybe the dog ate it? I’ve seen socks develop holes in them, usually at the heel — maybe the hole got so big that the sock became all hole and just vanished into nothingness? Whatever the case may be, you’ll find little more frustrating as a parent then trying to find a matching pair of socks in a hurry. You might as well attempt to spin silk into gold. My household doesn’t suffer alone, missing socks seem to be a universal plight. Some have even taken to calling it Missing Sock Syndrome. Search the internet and theories abound as to why socks go missing, even those which turn to Quantum Mechanics for an answer. The Whirlpool Institute offers up so called ‘real explanations’ for sock disappearance . Or maybe Comedian Jerry Seinfeld is onto something when he describes socks as escape artists. All good theories. All wrong. I know where all those missing socks are, they’re in the belly of the beast!... read more

Robot Invasion: Teaching Kids to Code

The robots are coming, the robots are coming! I can’t wait. Last November I came across a crowd funding campaign from play-i, now Wonder Workshop, to build programmable robots with the goal of teaching kids to code. Now, a year later, the robot invasion is nearly upon us and the world is about to be changed forever. For the better! As the robot army prepares to span the globe, children all of the world are about to step into the world of programming without even realizing it. Learning through play, it’s the best way to learn. The relationship between plan and learning in children is well documented. But how many of the thousands upon thousand of toys marketed towards your children really look to take advantage of this relationship? At Wonder Workshop they believe kids too often get told the right and wrong things to do. They believe that too often their success level is measured by standardized tests rather than their creativity and individual ingenuity. They are on a mission to empower children, to encourage them to create, to learn through play, and to become “shapers of their own world” rather than passive bystanders. We should be running to join them on this mission. Schools should be running. I am a father of 3 and I am a coder so the Wonder Workshop Mission really hits home. We live in an increasingly digital, computer driven world. Should we not teach our children the language of the world? I spend my days building websites, databases, and custom solutions with computer code. It sounds dreadfully boring, right? Because computer programming... read more

The Secret to a Happy Family: Kids Discipline Themselves?

What kind of parent do you want to be? For most parents the quick answer to this question is easy: a great one. Or at least hopefully that’s where most begin their journey. I think it is. But what happens next? What does it really mean to be a great parent? How will you navigate through the turbulent waters of parentinge? How will you handle it when your kids don’t listen? Have you really thought about what it takes? I’m talking about more than just the effort you will put forth. I’m talking about your parenting philosophy, your core values, those things that will anchor you when the weather gets rough. Because it will. The reality is this: we all want to be great parents, but the road to well adjusted young adults is a long one, it’s elusive, it’s fraught with unexpected pitfalls and challenges that didn’t exist yesterday. And around every corner? Parental exhaustion. It would be nice if when you left the hospital they handed you a road map to parenting success and that was all the guidance you needed, but that’s simply not possible. Destination unknown. Your journey will be unique. But with your core values serving as your north star, and a little luck, you’ll hopefully still get there. Just be sure to buckle up because at times it’s going to be bumpy! The good news is there are an abundance of resources and opinions — professional and otherwise — to help you navigate your way. Some of these will certainly be helpful to you. The bad news is that sometimes this avalanche of... read more

Rock Island: The Awakening

We stood alone among the rocks and oyster shells, surrounded on all sides by water. Somewhere beyond the water lay the land and the noise of the daily grind, but here now the only sound was the gentle lapping of the slow rising tide against the side of our tandem kayak which was moored to a large piece of driftwood a few paces from where we stood. Beneath our feet was Rock Island, as we had become accustomed to calling it. Presently it was no more than 100 feet at its widest point, a small patch of algae covered rocks, shells, and mud peeking forth from the surface of a small creek, a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay. But soon, as part of the daily tidal dance, it would again sink back beneath the surface like a giant sea turtle returning to the depths after rising for a breath of air. Rock Island was just a short paddle from the house where I grew up and just a little further from the house where I presently lived with my wife and kids. I had stood on this very spot many times before, but not for several years. When I was a child the island used to be much wider, even containing green grass, but now it was diminished, devoid of greenery, and only surfaced at low tide. Weathered by time and climate change, at high tide the island was now a ghost, its presence below the surface only marked by the tattered solo white flag someone had staked to its center to warn passing boats. The island was not... read more

People with no kids have no idea!

People with no kids have no idea. Not a clue. They think they know, but they don’t. I don’t say this without any degree of condescension or arrogance, simply as a statement of fact. A statement I’ve earned the right to make after years of sleep deprivation and thousands of changed diapers. Some may dispute it, but parents won’t possibly refute it because they know the regular chaos that can swirl around a toddler filled household. May have tried to describe it. Few in funnier fashion than standup comedian Michael McIntyre. It’s funny because it’s... read more

The Heavy

There’s an American here who has terminal pancreatic cancer. Terminal in the sense of being at work two weeks ago and gone from this earth tomorrow. I can’t get her out of my head. Thirty four. Kids ages six and four, just like mine. How do you say goodbye? There was a flurry of activity in the first days after she got the diagnosis. The vegan friend insisted she go vegan, the woman studying Ayervedic herbs had lots of advice about turmeric and coffee enemas. She is religious, so there’s that to consider. We started cooking, then stopped when she stopped eating. The best intentions of a community that isn’t. I’d never met her, but my husband was friendly with her at work. But it’s still too close for comfort. Close enough to make me think about what I would do, what I would want, if I was in her place. How do you say goodbye? There are three children in my son’s school who’s mother passed away from cancer last year. The oldest child pulled out all of her eyelashes and eyebrows after her mother died. They are just starting to grow back but her face has no light. The littlest one sits in the toddler room with her nanny, surrounded by boisterous mamas and children older than her enjoying a nurse and a cuddle. She sucks her thumb and stares off into space. I hug her but she shies away. How do you say goodbye? How do you say goodbye in a way that will ease their pain? That will allow them to live a life that... read more

Nobody Listening

Quite often while making lunch, a phone will ring, my Sadie (4) will answer, and hand it to me. “It’s Jack Johnson mama, he wants to talk to you”. I hold the orange plastic phone to my ear and glance at her. She’s listening and so is my son, six. Both are big fans of Jack Johnson. They know most of his songs and they know that he contributes 100% of his tour earnings to charity. “Hey man” I say into the phone. “How’s it going? Cool. No, it’s a good time, I’m just making some lunch. How are the waves today?” And then something a little crazy usually happens. I start to tell Jack about my day, about how I wish it were warmer, how I want to feel the sun on my skin “I’ll bet its 80 there in Hawaii!” I say. The kids move on, but, standing by the stove, I keep talking. I tell him how tired I am. How I don’t think I can drink one more cup of tea, but that it’s the only thing keeping me going. How weary I am of worrying about sore throats and coughs. I find myself talking to him like I really am talking to him. Is it because I don’t speak to many adults all day? Perhaps I am slightly delirious from lack of sleep? Or maybe because, with the silence at the other end of the plastic phone, it just feels good to be listened to. A friend of mine here in England is trained in Hand in Hand Parenting, a parenting style developed in... read more

Birthday Bike

She turned four yesterday and today she rode her birthday bike. No training wheels for her and no fear. A couple of wobbles and she was yelling “let go!” And I let go. I ran behind for as long as I could and she flew. She is fearless. It terrifies me. It fills me with awe and amazement and wonder. It is one of those moments that I hope to remember for the rest of my life. One of the moments that make all of the really hard moments completely and absolutely worth it. I struggle with the balance between protecting and letting go. Letting the fearlessness take her through a magical life but keeping her alive to see it. I struggle and because I am mindful of the struggle I hope that I am keeping the balance for her. The world will present all of its fears soon enough. For our children, coming of age in the time of climate change, terrorism, internet infinity with its overwhelming and endless negative and violent imagery, we must protect the fearlessness as long as we can. It is the secret to their future wellbeing and survival. It will give them hope when the world seems hopeless. It will allow them to believe that they can make a difference. Ride on, baby girl. I am so honored to be on this journey with... read more