Archive for December, 2009

Slow down

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

Lesson 6: Slow down. (My legs are shorter than yours.)

Thing 1 has two speeds: warp and slow-mo (generally reserved for vegetables, bath-time, and bed-time). But he also holds the world-record for slowest walker. When we go for a walk, he stops every few yards to pick up a grasshopper, pick mom a flower or pick his nose. And I often find myself saying, “C’mon pal! We gotta go!”

But the thing is, most of the time we don’t. 9 times out of 10, there’s really no reason “We gotta go!” I once found myself saying this on the way to the park. This is the adult condition. We get into a groove — of going, of doing, of hurrying to the park and completely missing “the most-awesomest-grasshopper ever, Dad…”

filed under Stuff my kids taught me

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Introducing Project OpenBook

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

IntroducingOpenBook

What if you invited the world to help write a childrens’ book? What if you asked the world to create great art for it? What if you committed to giving away the profits to something important?  What if?

These are some of the questions we’ve been pondering. So we’ve decided to find out.

We’re calling it Project OpenBook. It’s a community-written, community-illustrated children’s poetry book. We’ll publish the poems on this blog and let you — the community — rate them. And eventually we will publish a book with the best poems. And donate the profits to something awesome — like putting books into the hands of kids who otherwise wouldn’t have access.

We’ve written a bunch of poems and sketched some illustrations to get things started; we’ll be publishing them over the next couple months.

But we can’t do it alone.

Can you write? Can you draw? I hope you’ll consider contributing. If not, there are lots of other ways to help. Read along. Rate the poems. Read them to your kids or grandkids. Email them. Share them.

We don’t know where this road will lead us. But it will be an adventure. And we hope you’ll come along.

Want to learn more? See these related posts:

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Sometimes it doesn’t hurt until somebody tells you it should

Monday, December 28th, 2009

Lesson 5

Have you ever seen a toddler do a face-plant? The first thing they do is scan everybody’s face. Most of the time, the reactions she sees (verbal and non-verbal) will guide the toddler’s response. If you gasp, cover your mouth and say, “Oh my! Come to mama…lemme kiss your booboo!” she’ll act as if she just lost a limb. But if you’re immediate reaction is to laugh and say, “BOOM! Down he goes! You’re OK champ! Get up and GO! GO! GO!”, she’ll… get up and GO! GO! GO!

This phenomenon is not limited to toddlers; I think it impacts us at every age. (more…)

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My favorite gift

Sunday, December 27th, 2009

Storybook Thank You

A fan shared this thank-you note from her granddaughter Hanna (age 6 and in Kindergarten):

Grandma Jodi ~ Thank you so much for the book.  I can’t believe it is all about me!  We’ve read it lots of times!  thanks     ~Love Hanna

…and from Hanna’s mom:

OMG!  That book is amazing!  You should have seen how big her eyes got when she realized it was about her!  Amazing.  Definitely her most favorite book ever!

That’s easily my favorite Christmas gift of 2009 (with no offense to the giver of my 2nd favorite gift: socks and underwear).  I’m blown away by how thoughtful and smart (and prompt!) young Hanna is.  She’s obviously destined for big things!

Thank you, Jodi, for sharing it!  We’re honored to have been a small part of your Christmas.

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If you’re looking for a miracle, look at your hands

Saturday, December 26th, 2009

Lesson4

Have you looked at your hands lately?

Both of my kids were enthralled by their hands.  As infants, they would stare at their hands with absolute wonder.  I imagine they were just starting to sense that their hands belonged to them and they had some (limited) control over these amazing contraptions. (more…)

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Dance with gusto

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

Lesson 3

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(more…)

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Bragging is like wetting your pants

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

Lesson2

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(more…)

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When judging beauty, be generous

Monday, December 21st, 2009

Lesson1: When judging beauty, be generous.

Thing 1 always brings his mom flowers.  He’s learned (the hard way) that flower gardens are off-limits.  So he picks ‘wildflowers’ instead.

For a while I tried to help him distinguish between weeds and true wildflowers.  A typical conversation went something like this:

Him: I’ma pick mommy some flowers…
Me: Good call, champ. But that’s a dandelion. It’s a weed.
Him: Looks like a flower to me.

BouquetHis ‘bouquets’ definitely aren’t FTD. But his mom loves them like crazy.

filed under Stuff my kids taught me

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Simplify

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

Simplify

We’re overdoing it.  Mozart in utero.  Shuffling three-year olds from soccer to swimming to piano.  Dunking them in antibacterial soap.  Hovering at the playground, ready to swoop in and save her from that big bully, Hannah.  Junior gets a C+ in math and we call the school to demand ‘ANSWERS!’  We’ve come to view Parenthood as Project Management – and our kids are Version 1.0.

Hyper-parenting is the new normal.  “Keeping up with the Jones” isn’t just about cars or homes anymore.  We’re engaged in an arms-race to build nuclear children.  If you’re not training a three-sport athlete by age four, it’s hard not to wonder, “Will my kid be the last picked?”  Suddenly, children playing outdoors by themselves (*gasp* in the street!) are a product of parental neglect.

It all seems unhealthy.

Unhealthy for kids: we’re stripping them of the opportunity to make choices and fail. Which stinks, since failing and trying again is the only way humans truly learn and grow.

Unhealthy for families: lost in the shuffle is time to laugh, play and grow together.

Unhealthy for society: we’re creating burned-out, failure-fearing, helpless young adults who finally learn action/consequence at age 18…or later.

Let’s slow down.  Drop the fallacy of perfection.  Let our kids fail.  Send them outside to play.  Ditch a few activities.  Play a game.  Laugh.  Seek balance.

Simplify.  (Sorry, gotta run — we’re late for swimming lessons!)

Note: this riff was inspired by Seth Godin’s shiny new eBook “What matters now“.  If you haven’t already, go read it.

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What matters now…?

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

WhatMattersNow

Seth Godin — along with a troupe of about 70 writers, thinkers and activists — just published a free eBook.  It’s a collection of “things to think about (and do) this year.”  Each contributer writes a quick blurb about a single word (idea, really).

My favorite?  Gumption.  By J.C. Hutchins.  Second to last page.  Don’t miss it.  Is there a better word in the English language?

Click here to download the eBook.  It’s a good splash of cold water as we head into 2010.

So what do you think?  What matters now?

cover art by Thomas Hawk

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