Archive for March, 2010

Humpday, Mar 31, 2010

March 30, 2010

Hit the links for a few tidbits to get through the week …

The Rules About How Parents Should Make Rules – I first introduced my kids to rules when they were about one and a half years old –  long before they were developmentally ready to understand and obey them. I knew this, and had little expectation that they would follow any of the rules I had laid out in specific detail. But I felt that it made sense to at least introduce them to the fact that rules exist in the world and people follow them. So by the time their little brains were ready to follow them, rules weren’t a foreign concept. Did they follow along like good little lemmings? No they did not. But did it make it easier for both kids and parents? Yes it did.

Get Kids Growing! Regional Plant and Gardening Events for Families – If given a hands-on chance to observe it, kids learn alot from nature. Stuffing a tiny seed into a cup of dirt, kids learn that small things can grow into colossal things if we are patient and can find that happy medium between sticking to our end of the deal while still letting nature run its course. I know plenty of well-meaning but struggling adults who, for better or worse, never quite figured that out. At our house, as much as school and social rules, we put an equal emphasis on the mindful observation of nature, its patterns and balance. (If you hit the link, and scroll toward the bottom, they list a sensible 10-step plan for getting kids involved with the gardening process – and for our Northern Cal readers, there are ALOT of links to local venues there.)

Enjoy the jumps. Come back and see us when you can …


That “eggstra” touch

March 28, 2010

Last year, when we bragged about what we thought were pretty cool Easter eggs, our friend and reader, Stacey, politely replied with the equivalent of a walloping Easter egg trump card.

Stacey, well known at On Fatherhood for her other acts of might and courage, sent us the link: How to Make Silk Tie Easter Eggs

I admit, they are way cooler than mine.

Thanks for the tip, Stacey!

Lincoln Logs, take a seat in the back

March 28, 2010

Photo credit, National Trust for Historic Preservation

This aint no ordinary building. In case the smooth lines, ordered space and airy perspective didn’t lead on, this masterpiece building is one of many by world-renowned architect and designer Frank Lloyd Wright.

Built in 1939, the Pope-Leighy House is now a museum. It is literally a three minute drive from my front door and this weekend I took the family there to visit.

It wasn’t until we paid for admission (a small price, but at a separate location) that we realized it was a guided tour on schedule every hour.

Most of the fellow patrons were older. And none, smartly, had their kids with them. My wife and I knew that our two-year old wasn’t going to make it. He was already starting to walk around and fuss as the small crowd of well-dressed visitors gathered just outside the house before the tour started.

So my wife decided she and he would tour the nearby gardens and grounds instead, while our 5-year old and I stayed for the house tour.

Although it wasn’t posted anywhere, in hind sight, I’d say an architectural tour is probably an 8-year-old-and-up tour.


Still, even at five, Philo hung in there. He asked alot of interesting questions and took in a good part of what the tour guide said. And I think he got it, you know, actually being in a house built by a world-famous builder and artist.

If not, I’m sure he will someday.

What he did ask though, several times after we left, was about a very small and obscure Lincoln Log cabin that was set up on a table in the far corner of the living room. I wondered about it myself, though neither of us asked the guide.

Because they are from a much older generation, and he never saw Lincoln Logs before and wanted to know what they were. That was easy, and I told him.

But I wondered why they were there, intentionally, as decor amidst the masterpiece.

In any case, he now wants Lincoln Logs and I think it’s cool that when he gets some, he’ll associate them with a house that Frank Lloyd Wright made.

Of course, I was and still am, over the moon from the visit. I have always been a patron of the arts – and when it comes to architecture, there are few if any that surpass the creative genius of Wright. There are really no words to describe the sense of pure artistry and excellence found inside one of his spaces. Experience is the only way.

The full span of his work stretches across five countries and 37 U.S. States. Check this complete list of works to locate – and hopefully visit – a masterpiece near you.

I hope to see many, many more myself … when the boys are older, of course.

Meanwhile, we’ll be shopping for those Lincoln Logs.

Spring thoughts and videos on the fly …

March 14, 2010

I always know when spring is near.

Temperatures warm up, snow turns to rain, buds swell and birds’ songs stir the air.

And there is always a torrent of new projects and to-do lists that out of nowhere, jump up and catch me still half asleep from the lull of winter.

I’ll spare the details, at least for this week, as I trust everyone has their own fair share of spring cleanin’ and catchin’ up to do.

Instead, in the spirit of brevity and entertainment, I want to share some videos I made recently of our oldest son.

First is from his Karate class, where he earned his first belt advancement. It was a pretty big deal for him. He’s been working really hard in class, and it was a great lesson in, “hard work and discipline pay off.”

And the second video is … well … just fun. You’ll see.

Be sure to check back with us Wednesday for the jumps!

Humpday, March 10, 2010

March 9, 2010

A few tidbits to get us through the week …

  • A family’s strength – I’ve been helping a very good friend of the family, Annette Wiesner, build a blog for people with disabilities. This week she posted a great piece about families coming together during tough times. Keep an eye on Annette. She’s in the early stages of a very special and meaningful project.
  • A baby changes everything – Last week, we included links about teen pregnancy. After which, a friend sent me this story on MSNBC, which takes a close look inside the live of two teenaged parents to-be.
  • Brooklyn brewhaha: Babies in bars – Right now, there is a national debate going on whether or not babies should be allowed in bars. Should they? Take a look at the story on CNN, and hit us up in the comments. I’d love to get your thoughts on this.

Enjoy the jumps! Come back and see us when you can.

When you give, you get

March 7, 2010

I always look for ways to learn more, as both a parent and professional.

So when our local parent-teacher association asked for volunteers to help coordinate annual picture day at school last week, as a dad and photographer, I couldn’t resist.

Now for me, when it comes to volunteering, I have witnessed, first hand, the power of instant Karma. It might be the generalist in me, the lover of all things, but I always get a great deal of insight and enjoyment from each experience I contribute to. There’s always something great I get in return, when I give a part of myself to any cause.

Picture day was no exception to the cosmic law of give and take.

And it took alot.

As anyone can imagine, photographing hundreds of kids, from kindergarten to 6th grade – in one day – is a major undertaking. I was one of nearly a dozen volunteers to assist the faculty and a corps of about 12 photographers at four portrait stations in the gymnasium.

The biggest insight, professionally, was how much organization and process is going on, behind the flowery scenes and flash bulb pops.

We’re talking about many, many kids here, all at once and one right after the other. They each have their little envelope of money, with their package selected, and a corresponding card with a bar code.

They start up on stage, in the back of the gym ,where they get their class group photo taken, and then the kids are paraded out onto the floor to get their individual portraits.

This is mass production photography.

It’s up to the photographer to keep track of who’s who in the picture and make sure the envelope matches the person in the photo, so that each family gets the right prints back from the lab, with the right amount of photos enclosed.

These picture-day people have been doing this for a long time – you know, you remember getting it done too – and they have it pretty well figured out by now.

But as someone who is always studying others in my own industry, my head was spinning seeing hundreds of envelopes and little cards and bar codes flying around.

I realized pretty quick why annual, package-style, school photos are often so void of creativity. As Philip, one of the photographers there said, “It’s more important for us to be standardized than fancy.”

(read: The same “granny’s porch” backdrop for everyone, and flat, uninteresting lighting.)

But he’s right. To do that many photos in such a short period of time – and to keep it all creative – would be a tall order.

And he said, even if it was possible to be fancy, the extra time and effort for creativity on such a scale would drive prices way out of most families price range.

It was a super valuable lesson for me.

For a while, I toyed with the idea that I might expand my business model to include annual school photos.

Suffice it to say I no longer toy with that notion.

I’ll stick with smaller groups in better settings, like families in their homes or kids at the park, which on that scale, allows both creativity and affordability.

The hours flew by on the big round clock, hanging on the gym wall. And once the last class was process for pictures, I realized how much I really like kids.

Some folks don’t. I get that.

Others like their own kids, and that’s good they should, but they don’t care for other people’s kids so much.

But I just like ’em.

I am inspired by their curiosity and their willingness to learn. I enjoy their enthusiasm. And I know quite well that kids fib, lie and make up tall tales by the dozens – still – they have a certain honesty about them that most adults have lost or misplaced.

It’s a simplicity. It’s the ability to participate with and see things for what they are, without making strong or analytic assertions about them.

Kids have the ability to be in the present, not planning the future or replaying the past. They don’t worry. They smile for real, from ear to ear.

Present in the moment, they make enjoyment seem effortless.

It’s a goodness and a realness that as we grow into adults – for some reason – we lose.

I lose mine more often than not, but I always get it back in the company of kids.

Humpday, Mar. 3, 2010

March 2, 2010

A few tidbits to get us through the week …

Teens + Sex = Pregnancy.

My boys are two and five years old. Teen sex is not something we discuss, not yet.

My great hope though, is to raise boys who will wait to have sex until they are married.

There. I said it.

Not for social or religious reasons, and not only to avoid the consequences of unplanned pregnancy

You know, the adolescent male sexual urge is one of the greatest known forces of human nature. Stronger than hunger. Greater than thirst. It trumps fear and drowns out reason.

And I think (and my boys will hear me say this many times in their young lives) if as young men they can overcome that urge, if they can dig deep inside and develop the discipline to temper that desire – if they can learn to exercise that kind of control, then they can do anything. Don’t you think?

  • ‘Sex education at 12’ call to cut teen pregnancy – “Cheerio, good fellows, I say we teach the bloody rascals before they’re teens.” Here’s an intersting look at the teen pregnancy in the U.K., and one group that suggests they start Sex Ed at 12 years old.
  • Teen pregnancy perfectly natural, says Hilary Mantel – Also across the pond, but on the other side of the debate, prizewinning novelist Hilary Mantel advocates teen pregnancy and says she would have had a baby at age 14, if society was more friendly to women.

Enjoy the jumps! Come back and see us when you can.