I looked down at my two boys laying back on the blanket in our front yard and smiled deeply. I leaned back in my lawn chair and looked up to the stars.

“There, Dad! I saw one!” Anthony exclaimed as he pointed just above our head. I just caught the tail end of the meteor as it streaked across the sky.  I had woken both of the boys up at 4am; we only had a good 2 hour window to see as many meteors as possible. For the past five years I had been trying to share this experience with the boys, yet each year the weather or other factors had made it impossible.

One of the things I remember vividly from my childhood is waking up early or staying up late with my dad on or around August 12th. We would walk outside between midnight and dawn, throw out a blanket or lawn chair, lean back and just watch the sky quietly. He would sip on his coffee and I would gulp my 7-Up. Suddenly, he wold point somewhere in the sky and we would share that moment of watching a meteorite cross the sky.

It was important for me to share this moment with my boys like my father had with me. We sat there staring up at the sky, and I laughed as they asked questions like “what if aliens are using this to mask their landing, Dad?” and “What would happen if one of their meteors was big enough to make it to the ground? Could we find it?.”

I sent them back to bed at 5:30am, still filled with wonder. I hoped they would at least get another hour or two of sleep before bouncing awake to tell Kirsten, Papa, and Nana all about their great exploration. Sure thing, the next morning they were downstairs like proud explorers who had just come back from their long deep space exploration, telling everyone about seeing shooting stars, planets, and constellations. I smiled and laughed to myself seeing them relive every moment.

This is what it means to create those memories they will never forget.


Social Media and Parenting 2.0 (Overexposed)

After my last article on subject of social media’s affect of  our kids, I spent a while pondering the long term affects of exposing our children on the internet. We talk about Business to Business and Business to Customer marketing all the time in Social Media, but what about Parent to Child marketing? In 7-9 years, when Anthony and Ethan are trying to get into college, what is going to be out there on the net about them? Will the our boys be using Social Media to market themselves to colleges? You can be sure that the colleges and business will be using it to market to our children.

Our daughter, Keira has been involved in Social Media from 10 weeks in the womb. Mommy tweeted throughout the pregnancy, the birth and all the silly first moments on Keira’s own twitter account. There are more pictures of my children in photo albums online than I have in paper photo albums. This all leads me to wonder if my children are overexposed on the net. While they only get an hour of computer time each day, the amount of information about them on the internet is longer than some books.

Anthony, Ethan and Keira are all going to grow up with this presence on the world wide web. What will that be like for them, knowing that parts of their entire life are floating out there for anyone to find? Some of us (showing my age here) remember the days of CompuServe and BBSes. Yet, as we grew up, our interactions on those platforms slowly died away. When my boys turn 21 and start looking for a job, could they be Googled by their possible future employer? Are they going to find all the silly family photos, Facebook pages, Good-reads, and maybe even this article? Will employers have some kind of system that will red flag certain types of content for further evaluation, and base a salary and job position on how well they maintained their internet presence? Or could they lose a chance at a job when the boss finds photos of them and their friends being too social?

While I love talking about my kids and sharing photos and stories of the silly events that happen in our life, I’m left wondering if maybe it’s too much. What are your thoughts on children’s exposure on the internet?

In Defense of Dads

On a busy day home with the kids, I saw a tweet float past my twitter feeds: “Dad-Mom Role Reversal- What happens when Dad stays home?” I thought it sounded good for Jason, who stays at home with the kids more often than I do, and forwarded it along to him without reading it. What I found out was that this article had deeply upset him. Instead of being a supportive article for working mothers about having dads stay home with the kids, it was a list of ways that dads don’t measure up to moms. Following this article, I ran across a slew of other articles that were different subjects but all had same same context: Dads just can’t cut it.

The problem with these articles is that they measure dads against moms as if dads are just a substitute for when mom isn’t around. This hardly seems fair. We wouldn’t look down on a dad for not breastfeeding his child or a mom for not properly teaching her son to fish. So why would we look down on a dad for not being a mom?? Dads do not cease to be a man just because they’re home with the kids. And why treat men as though their value is diminished when they’re home supporting and nurturing the most important people in our lives: our children.

Years ago, Jason worked from home part time while the kids were in school. When the kids were off of school, he was there with them. Was the house absolutely spotless? Well, no. Did the boys always leave the house matching? Ha. Uh, no. (Seems my boys lack the “matching” gene.)

But the kitchen was always picked up and dinner was always made. The kids made it to soccer and baseball practice on time. Jason was involved with their sports and coached them on how to do better. Homework was always complete and the boys felt confident in their schooling. Their grades soared, they had less problems at school, and in the evenings, since a lot of this work was done ahead of time, I had time to sit and teach them German words and phrases.

Life was good. There was a sense of relaxation knowing that while not everything was done up to my Type A Mom standards, the big stuff, the stuff that mattered most to our family, was taken care of. And most importantly, the kids were happy.

Bringing a baby into the house puts a new spin on the home life. The learning curve and the stakes seems higher. But the nice part about being a new mom is that people understand when things aren’t under control. No one expects a clean house and dinner on the table when you’ve been home all day with an infant. How is that any different than when dad begins his journey of staying home with the kids?

Children are a whole new language (for both parents) and it takes an entire immersion into their world to fully understand how to keep their lives and the house under control. Maybe if we granted dads the compassion and understanding that we extend to new moms, we’d find that dads are just as capable of running the show. With a dash of fart jokes on the side.

The Day I Knew I Loved You.

The Day I Knew I Loved You.

Rain gave off a soft, salty scent of unwashed bricks in the streets of Benrath, Germany. I was walking to the train station from my exchange family’s home with some of the tight-jean wearing Germany students. It was June of 1997 and it seemed to rain nearly every afternoon as the humid weather brought the daily thunderstorms. We were headed to old town Dusseldorf to go out for the night. I had spoken with you only minutes ago on the phone and we had agreed to meet on the train into town. I smiled to the ground as I realized how fond I was growing at having you around. Your smiles and laughs were infectious and I didn’t want a cure. I only had 2 and half weeks left before I would be heading off to college would likely hardly, if ever, see you again.

As I walked up to the train station, I turned  and heard the other students calling to me as they were walking up to their right. I looked at them, confused as to where they were heading. “We take the trolley to this place, it’s easier to get to,” one of the students said. I tried to explain that I had told you to meet us at the S-bahn station near your host family’s home. Reluctantly, I let them convince me that you would know where we were going and would meet up with us there.

My heart dropped. The city whizzed by, station to station, laughing German students ready for a good night out and I couldn’t get the image of you standing on the train platform, waiting for the man that would never come. I felt a sense of loss and disappointment in myself that I had never sensed before. I had let you down and I never wanted to do it again. When we got to the pub, I walked through the door into all the smiling, laughing and drinking faces, yours was not among them. I sat with the others and waited, hoping maybe you were running late.

I found myself some time later standing outside of the loud dark room. The lamplight in the streets casting dancing shadows down my path. The rain had to turned to a soft mist and heat from the day was causing the water to evaporate from the bricks, swirling a mist into the air. The water seemed to hang between falling and raising, and my heart mimicked the movements.

I walked the extra distance to the S-bahn station so I could take it home just in case I would find you along the way. As the train slowed down to stop at your platform I watched, hoping you might still be there, but also hoping you wouldn’t have waited out in the rain for me this long. I was greeted only by the platform, trash cans and flashing of the over head florescent lighting.

When I finally got up to my room at my host family’s home, I laid my head down but couldn’t get the image of you waiting in the rain for the man that would never come. I laid there in the dark that night, unable to sleep, trying to understand everything I was feeling. It was then that I realized I loved you, I always would and never wanted to disappoint or be without you again.

5 Signs I’m Raising a Nerd.

5 Signs I might be raising a future nerd.

1. Not only does he know what a Dalek is, he builds one out of Legos.

2. He comes inside on a sunny day to work out math problems or read instead of playing outside.

3. When talking to you about college he is already weighing out the differences between MIT and Cal Poly.

4. For fun you help him figure out the cost benefit analysis of changing all the indoor lighting to LED light bulbs.

5. He wants his future car license plate will read:



“Tween or Vampire”

Recently the boys have hit some strange changes. As a writer of Ghost stories, I started to wonder…”Are my boys becoming Vampires?!” Only in my mind would this seem rational. However, I was able to rationalize their changes as becoming  “tweens.” These are five warning signs your child might be becoming a Tween or Vampire and how to tell the difference.

1. Aversion to sunlight or Staying up to late – They no longer get up at the crack of dawn. You might even have to wake them so they are not late for school. They now want to stay up later and later. Don’t worry that they might be becoming a vampire, unless they start to sparkle in the sunlight, because apparently that’s what real vampires do. Sorry, I miss the old school vampires that had a little more bite and a little less pretty.

2. Rigor mortis  or The Eye Roll – The eye roll is no longer contained to the eyes. It seems now that the entire head rolls with the eyes like there is some connection that causes the eyes to no longer function independently.  Unless the whites of their eyes have become all black, I wouldn’t worry about this. I think this is done more for dramatic flare to demonstrate their dissatisfaction at some of our adult decisions.

3. They can’t see themselves in a mirror or New Wardrobe and strange uses of clothes – Their desire to define themselves is lost on you! “Have you even looked in the mirror?”, “What are you wearing!”, “Why did you cut holes in socks and put them on your arms”, “Really? You really want me to go out with you looking like that?” – These are all things I have caught myself saying. I don’t mind the new clothes and random styles. Sometimes I just have to remind myself what I was wearing near their age. On the other hand, if you are walking up behind them while they brush their teeth and you literally can’t see them in the mirror, make sure they are brushing behind the fangs. If they can’t see them, they are liable to miss them.

4. Pale Skin or Lack of Sun– All the staying up late, getting up late and staying inside to play video games and you’ve got one pale kido. Cure this by sending them outside to play or read a book as much as you can. Heck, they can take their DS outside if it comes to that. If their skin starts to smoke or smolder, just buy then some SPF 1000’s and some sunglasses.

5. Sharp increase in Hunger or Crazy Metabolism – With all those new hormones playing games with their system and the massive growth spurts, you might be worried that your child seems to each twice as much now. If you aren’t sure, just load all their food with garlic. When they ask why the PB and J has garlic, just tell them it’s good for them. Unless they a following the family mutt around with fork, knife and lobster bib, you should be okay.

So we have made it through the list and apparently our kids aren’t vampires. They are only “Tweens.” Wait, what I am saying? Maybe they are zombies… but I’ll save that for a later post.

Time Capsule #4 (History Test)

It is time to find out just how much history the boys understand with some basic questions. What is even funnier is asking Kirsten some of these questions I’ve included some of her responses as well. Mind you she is putting in 10+ hour work days 7 days a week right now so her brain is a little…shall we say taxed. Afterward she stuck out her tongue and said “what do you know about international tax regulation?” to which I hid under the covers and cowered like a baby. 😉

Question 1:  List in order the first five Presidents of the United States of America.

Anthony : 1. George Washington 2. John Adams 3. Thomas Jefferson 4. James Madison 5. John Quincy Adams

Ethan: 1. George Washington 2. John Adams 3. Quincy Adams 4. George Bush 5. Sponge Bob

Kirsten : 1. George Washington 2. John Adams 3. Thomas Jefferson… Monroe somebody.

Dad: Anthony so Close! number 5 should be James Monroe then John Quincy Adams is 6th.

Dad: Ethan you have two of the five up there. John Quincy Adams was 6th. The other two Bush and Bob are not any of the first five or founding fathers.

Question 2: Which presidents currently appear on the $10 $20, and 100 bills

Anthony: 1. $10 – no idea 2. $20 – no idea 3. $100 – Ben Franklin

Ethan: 1. $10 – Quincy Adams 2. $20 – John Adams 3. $100 – Sponge Bob

Kirsten: 1. $10 – Jefferson 2. $20 Adams 3. $100 Benjamin Franklin

Anthony & Ethan: $10 – Alexander Hamilton, $20 – Andrew Jackson, $100 – Benjamin Franklin

Question 3: Who was in charge of war planing for the British during WWII (hint think Doctor who season 5 in the bunker with the Dalek’s. History learned from Dr. Who folks.)

Anthony: Minster Winston

Ethan: Winston Noah

Dad: You both got half of it. Winston Churchill. Anthony he was indeed a Prime Minster in the British government but he would have been Prime Minster Churchill.

Question 4: Name one of the countries the Nile River runs through.

Anthony: Egypt

Ethan: Egypt

Dad: Good job both of you. Understanding Geography is a key to a good understanding of history.

Question 5: Which came first the Greek Empire or the Roman Empire?

Anthony : Greek

Ethan: Greek

Kirsten: Turkish?!

Dad: Right and Right. Many of the Greek ideas influenced the Roman empire and even out modern republic we live in.

Question 6: What event cause d the U. S. A. to enter into WWII

Anthony: That Bombing…

Ethan: Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor

Dad: Anthony I know you are prenting not to know so I’ll have to take you on a field trip to Hawaii right. 😉 Ethan great job, not only did you get the event, but the players in the event as well.

Question 7: Please put the following wars in correct chronological order: World War II, Vietnam War, Revolutionary War, World War I, Koren War and Civil War

Anthony: 1. Revolutionary War 2. Civil War 3. World War I 4. World War II 5. Koren War 6. Vietnam War

Ethan: 1. Revolutionary War 2. Civil War. 3. Korean War 4. World War I 5. World War II 6. Vietnam War

Dad: Antony you have a good grasp of time! Chronological order of time is the second key to understanding history. Ethan you were so close, but in truth we hardly talk about the Korean War. The Korean war happened after the two World Wars. Maybe we should have a sit down and talk to Papa about it. It happened while he was growing up.

Question 8: Name two of the USA’s Allies During World War II

Anthony: Russia and France

Ethan: Russia and Britain

Dad: Correct! Later the five major countries in the Allies would form the five permeate seats in the security council of the United Nations Charter.  The U.N. Charter is one of the most important documents of our time. People may not see it yet but we are becoming more and more of a global identity through media and technology.

“We the peoples of the United Nations determined: to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom, And for these ends: to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbors, and to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security, and to ensure, by the acceptance of principles and the institution of methods, that armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest, and to employ international machinery for the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples, Have resolved to combine our efforts to accomplish these aims: Accordingly, our respective Governments, through representatives assembled in the city of San Francisco, who have exhibited their full powers found to be in good and due form, have agreed to the present Charter of the United Nations and do hereby establish an international organization to be known as the United Nations.”

Question 9: What type of system of government do we have in the USA? Monarchy, Oligarchy, Democracy, Dictatorship?

Anthony: Democracy

Ethan: Democracy

Dad: Yes are a democratic republic.

Question 10: In what year did Columbus sail the ocean blue?

Anthony 1642

Ethan: 1602

Dad: In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue. If he had been that late in sailing maybe the native populations might have had a fighting chance.

Question 11: What year did we first step foot on the Moon?

Anthony: 1967

Ethan: 1952

Dad: Apollo 11 landed the first humans on the moon July 20th 1969. I hope beyond hope that we get our butts in gear and get back up there in some way soon. Then we have so many moons around the other planets to explore!

Question 12: What was the first state in America

Anthony: Delaware

Ethan: Delaware

Dad: Ding ding ding.

Questions 13: Australia was first used by the British as a ________ Colony

Anthony: Slave

Ethan: Whalers

Dad: The first colony in Australia was a Prison colony.

Dad: As a Social Science Ed major I’m proud of both of you. Your knowledge of not only what events happened, but also WHY they happened is wonderful. We need to not only remember the past to stop it from happening again but understand what lead up to those events. I just hope I don’t bore you to death with all the history I want to teach you. I’ll always try to keep it interesting and relevant. If you ever have any questions about history just ask. If the question has to do with math go ask your mom.

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