Tag Archives: dominoes

Scenes from Saturday + BBQ & Pickle

I listened to a Plain English pod this week with a sociologist discussing the rise of living alone and the decline of social infrastructure.

In the last 20 years, American adults reduced their average hours of face-to-face socializing by about 30 percent. It’s even bigger for teens and unmarried adults. I can definitely attest that much of the teen time that used to be passive hanging out is now done with snaps, chats, and texts.

This shift has happened despite one the keys to happiness, according to the longest running study of adult development, is to build strong social connections. The people in the study who had the warmest connections with other people were the happiest and stayed the healthiest throughout their lives.

As a card-carrying introvert who would argue that being alone is much different than being lonely this is a bit like being told to eat my vegetables. But it’s also hard to argue with 80 years of results.

Time to make some small talk!

Continue Reading

Scenes from Saturday + Planes & Trains

Dash and I were taking one of our walks through the woods the other day and the air was crisp, but not cold, the leaves were crunching, the light slanting just so and I felt a moment of sublime peace and contentment. Just for a moment because I immediately screwed it up by trying to grab it and make it last which immediately caused it to sort of collapse around me. Not the best way to be in the moment.

I’ve never been able to sustain a successful meditation practice but one bit did get stuck in my brain. Trying to cling to a moment is a great way to take a good moment and turn it bad by trying too hard to hold onto that good experience.

I do this all the time. I might have a great writing session, or a good workout, or a productive day at the office and I’ll think, “Yes, that’s the kind of day I want. Now, I just need to make tomorrow the same!”

And suddenly something that should have been a celebration turns into stress.

It’s two weeks until Christmas and what I hope will be more magical and memorable experiences with friends and family. I just need to remember that experiences are for having, not for hoarding.

Continue Reading

Scenes from Saturday + Chaffles & Crisp

The girls are past the constant question stage, but with school back in session, we still get the occasional query. Just like I hope to (eventually) pass down off my love of reading, I also hope they never completely stop trying to figure things out.

Michelle is a great role model for this attitude. She will ask questions of anyone at anytime and she will keep asking until she understands. I prefer to try to do it on my own (or ask machines) until I hit a deadend before I go looking for human help. Perhaps not the most efficient approach but I think we each maintain as adults an ‘everything is figureoutable‘ attitude in different ways. That’s the most important part.

Too many of us let our curiosity slowly dwindle after we close that last textbook. Our minds slowly close as we get older.

Kids and their questions are a great reminder that we should never stop trying to learn or never be satisfied not knowing the answers to some things.

Continue Reading

Scenes from Saturday + Cars, Chili & Commerce

It was our town’s discovery day yesterday. Sort of a cross between a block party, street carnival, and chamber of commerce power point presentation. I’m sure your town has something similar.

It was 3 o’clock and the ubiquitous plastic trumpets someone had mistakenly thought were a good idea had wormed their way into my inner ear and turned my heart as black as the Grinch’s on Christmas Eve. I was done. Ally wanted to stay longer.

As a parent, it feels as if I’m perpetually short on time and always looking ahead to the next thing. But what am I actually rushing toward and what am I rushing away from? Do I really want to rush home to a house under renovation? Do I need to vacuum the glitter off the stairs again? Or remind the girls to practice their instruments?

I’m really just moving too quickly through their childhood. How important will those extra 15 minutes seem in a few years? How much would I give for a few minutes back right now before she becomes an irrational teenager?

Why rush toward an uncertain future? Better to focus on the present.

Still, a present without the plastic vuvuzelas would have been nice.

Continue Reading

Scenes from Saturday + Top Knobs & Trains

The shot of summer late this week reminded everyone of two things: first, Dad’s rules on using the air conditioning and second, summer Dad camp is not that far away.

This year was the first where we didn’t sign up them up for camps and then tell them where they were going. We let them choose. This might have been a mistake. Turns out most kids have no idea how to make a decision.

What seems obvious to us, dinner, wardrobe, book to read next. Is an almost existential crises for them. How can they pick a summer camp when they can’t pick a cereal?

Turns out I vastly underestimating the amount of skill and experience in making decisions. Sure, most of the decisions we make as an adult mean nothing. Pick something and move on. But to kids it can be almost paralyzing. At least my kids.

This will be the summer of choice. Perhaps empowerment. Perhaps regret. But they will choose. They will learn. Life is a series of decisions. They will be prepared.

Continue Reading

Scenes from Saturday + Treats & Tricks

It’s National Library Week and I’m going to admit one of my biggest fears: despite trying to lead by example, despite having books piled up around the house, despite literally writing books myself, my kids won’t be lifelong readers. They won’t love books.

When we visited Paris, searching out a famous bookstore was on the agenda. I love books.

I believe reading is the greatest shortcut to self-improvement. Yet most people I know struggle to find the time to do it. And if we struggle to do it for ourselves, we struggle even more to get our kids to do it.

Other than not letting them root for any NY team, getting them to appreciate, enjoy, and want to read, is one of my top priorities as a Dad.

I say ‘no’ constantly to their requests when we are out doing errands but I never say no to a book. I try to think of books as investments. You put down a few dollars, commit several hours, and you get something back. That might be a few hours of escape, feeling less alone, learning a new skill, or solving a problem.

Give them someone to look up to and a book they can come back to.

Continue Reading

Scenes from Saturday + Slime & Pretzels

Part of Cecilia’s weekly chores contract is the list of jobs, of course, but it also includes a rider: all done without complaints. Complaints covers eye rolls, heavy sighs, feet stomps and other tomfoolery. This is often the hardest part for her and we’ve recently been talking a lot about perspective.

Often life can be a lot like a chore chart. We can look at it one way and be annoyed or angry or worried. We can look at it another and find an exciting challenge. We can choose to see something as an obstacle or an opportunity.

Which is the right choice? That’s sort of a trick question, isn’t it? Life certainly has some difficult obstacles. For me, the right perspective is often the one that that allows me to move forward, to reduce stress, and to find humility, or even humor (ok, sometimes sarcasm). Each situation has two handles—one that will bear weight and one that won’t. I’m trying to teach the girls to to choose carefully. With a minimum of eye rolls. Continue Reading