Monday, November 25, 2013

Hunger Games

I watched Hunger Games last night.

That is a modern day adult version of a princess movie!  Strong beautiful capable female character, slightly sheepish but boyishly handsome fellow.

Authentic and deeply rooted in virtuous ways even in the face of her own life, finding a solution that cleverishly out wits the establishment, saves her boy, and honors the dead.

I avoided watching/reading it for so long, turned away by the premise of the movie.  Interesting platform for telling the story of variations in human interaction.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Lean In Discussion

I’m a few chapters into Lean In by Sheryl Sandburg, and I find a few things that strike a chord or are highly relatable.

The fraud syndrome, which is feeling like an impostor, and expecting at any time someone might “find me out”.  Under celebrating successes, having the impression that they came from luck or some outside help.  I can relate to that.  And, as the book points out, silly and self-inflicted.

Needing to balance between stereotyped expectations of feminine traits like community with being dubbed the bitch.  I don’t experience it as dissonant as she describes it.  For example, I am a communal person by nature (not speaking for all women) and part of my expertise is helping teams be awesome. “Nurturing” individuals through empowerment.  I get results from that.

Advice on “we” vs “I.”  I tend to use “we” vs “I” when talking about successes; I am acutely aware and appreciative of  the influences along the way that made up what it is that I accomplished.  It’s a philosophical discussion regarding we are all one.  There’s appropriate uses of I and we, and I could argue that men overuse “I” and would do well to reflect their connections in their choice of language.  If you cut down the tree, sawed it up, hauled it, split it, and stacked it in a pile, “I” is appropriate.  Rarely is that solely a one person job.  “I seeded the idea,” “I created this portion,” “I was influenced by,” “I brought it to fruition,”  sure.

The subject on having to come across as nice as a female leader.  Sure, that exists.  But to me, is not an attempt on making everyone happy, it’s treating people with unfaltering respect and authenticity under any condition, especially the hard conditions.  “Nice” in my mind, is trusting that someone will always treat me respectfully regardless of the hard decisions that  occur.  Having to fire someone is an example of this.  The actions leading up to it, and the conversation of termination combined…respect.  It is not in my best interest to judge a person of their self-worth.  Respect includes being aware of what’s knowable about a person. What I know is how they behave in the environment they are employed into; that is a tiny sliver of insight into a vast human being.  I think because respect can be a very difficult thing to act on in every situation, niceness is sometimes a fluffy word describing under-skilled respect, both genders.  I might argue that men are given the benefit of the doubt when they act like an ass more so than women.

The book does tend to beat a topic to death.  If I weren’t listening to audio, I would probably skim some sections having “gotten it” before she’s done talking about it.  In some instances she talks about characteristics as  good vs bad, whether she means to, and occasionally I think it should be phrased as “this is what women bring to the table, and what makes gender diversity matter”.

I also find, being a mom of a daughter, that I challenge myself not to perpetuate as much of the negative gender biases as possible.  It is deeply ingrained, I agree with the author completely!  Lillian’s generation is our opportunity to learn to embrace our specialties and overcome external and internal barriers of female leadership.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Power Girl!

Goldieblox (which is already on order for underneath our Christmas tree) is a representation of a fundamental change in the upbringing of girls this generation.  Recognizing the impact of "feminine" toys, perceptions, and expectations, there is a need for coming up with solutions so that we raise competent, and intellectually confident girls for the workforce in the coming decades.  I happen to be in one of the industries where women make up only 11%, thus I find myself highly passionate about innovations like GoldieBlox, seeing first hand how more women in software engineering would have a positive impact.

It's this-generation's women's movement.  We need more of this!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

"Relentlessly pursue the best version of you -- This will make you the best mommy, partner & woman you can be." - Kerri Walsh Jennings

Monday, November 11, 2013

That idea space in your mind will drift to sleep by the gentle rocking of routine.

Sunday, November 3, 2013


I encounter an intense amount of guilt when looking back on moments where I hit the end of my rope, find my bucket of patience empty, hear myself say "I've got nothin' left".  With my kids, that's at least 365 times a year.  Frustration abated, I am diligent to apologize, letting them know that my love for them is strong regardless of mood.  But I drift off to sleep with thoughts of how they deserve a better mom, they don't deserve the anger of an adult; they are just curious beings learning the ways of the world, much like myself, and I wish not to squash that.

I observe in my world, that anger, sorrow, frustration, guilt, ect are all feelings within human nature.  I practice embracing it.  "Hello anger", and holding fast to its temporary nature.  The study of mindfulness brings me back to this again and again.  "youth is suffering, aging is suffering, sickness is suffering, dissociation from the loved is suffering, not getting what one wants is suffering"  "it is the common bond we all share" -Ajahn Sumedho

My role as a parent is a catalyst for learning, for providing the environment where they can collect tools in their tool belt for life.  Tools even, for how to handle their anger.  I find I talk a lot, but I see the best results when I've set a consistent solid example.  Pleases and Thank yous, napkin in the lap, underpants before pants, all mirrored behaviors that no amount of nagging would achieve.  Even my childhood memories lack phrasing, rather, comprises entirely of modeling, such as guiding me through a decision making process with presence and compassion rather than telling my stubborn being "no", how the adults around me treated each other, whether they picked up trash on the trail side, or donated their time to others.  I act just like, or just unlike, my parents.  Damn it then, my daily frustration, welling up, as I attempt to tell my kids what they should know. 

It occurs to me a victory I was not quiet enough to see until recently, and I thank my best friend for being the catalyst on this one.  The very act of recognizing my anger, taking ownership of it, talking out loud with them about when my anger has left me, what it felt like, that I love them regardless of how I feel, to address why I felt angry and collaborate on future improvement, IS in its very nature more powerful than any lesson I could consciously teach.

It is my responsibility to behave respectfully in anger, to avoid damaging words, and to respect another person's body. 

Each time anger arises, "hello anger" again I say; experiencing it with my children however authentically it comes out, learning gradually to describe it without threat or blame or condescension.  Responses like: "I'm going to spank you" or "you did this out of spite" or "you are a bad child" are learned reactions grounded in our own fear.  Be joyous in knowing, that if these reactions are present in your mind, they can be unlearned, if you wish.  Replacing them with phrases like: "I have a need to keep you safe", "I won't let you act that rough", or "I need two minutes of breathing, sit with me if you'd like".  

What I personally need to sit with is following through with compassion for myself when I have felt frustrated and acted out of anger.  That's not an easy thing to do, it's effectively my punishment for behaving so badly.  However, anger is not bad, and punishment does not have positive lasting consequences, nor is it deserved.  May I be so bold as to set a good example to my kids for extending compassion for ones self in time of error.  How liberating would it be for a child not to loath their harder feelings and accept them with grace, and knowing how to do it because they're copying their mom (and dad) grandma, grandpa, aunt, uncle, or cousin who can do that too.

Compassion is thinking to ones self or vocalizing:  I am a passionate human being, with sovereignty of thought, and that sometimes includes anger.  May I be aware of ideas that improve the emergence of my anger throughout my lifetime.  May I remove the obstacles in my mind such as false beliefs, resistance, and misunderstanding, which prompt the Anger to arise.  "Hopefully each time it occurs, we learn something that makes it less likely to happen again." -MJ Kabat-Zinn

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Candy Smorgasbord

Halloween is for dressing up, putting on a different persona, and racking up cute or horrific pictures.  In my family, I encourage costumes that are non-commercial characters with my kids, in hopes that they may play out their own authentic creature.  I love to watch their imagination unfold without the influence of someone's voice-over.

I am also a household of no sugar, which I've come to learn, means they get candy all day long, just not at home under my care.  Halloween is a tricky one, pun intended, with candy filling up their sacs.

We live in a neighborhood behind our kids school, and trick-or-treating is the thing to do on Halloween!  I'm no humbug, but I am that household that hands out packs of fruit gummies, pretzels, juice-based suckers, and pencils. I'm thinking Cuties this year too.  Mini Play-doh containers would work too.

Here's my candy policy when my kids bring home the loot: they get to pick out three pieces of candy to keep.  (I ignore what they eat on the trail).  For the remaining smorgasbord, I get out a stainless steel bowl and a roll of nickels and dimes, and make a big "kerplunk" sounds in the bowl with 5 cents for the little pieces, 10 cents for the big ones.  Regardless of what candy they bring home, I make it worth their while by giving them the purchase power for turning their candy into about $10 of their own.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Next Gen

Has the perception that the younger generations are lazier, impolite, hoodlums with bad grammar and listen to terrible music been this way since the dawn of time?  I wonder what generation it was that truly turned into crack pipes, a lesser specimen than their predecessors, if there ever was a tipping point.  Have we been degenerating every since?  This is all the while each wave of parents try their best to raise stronger, smarter, and healthier children, no less.

It is possible our human condition is so attached to familiarity that we failed to see the face of success in our successors.  This would suggest then the unit of measure is flawed.  If different is inherently uncomfortable, and we are measuring them against our agree-o-meter, they will always appear to fail.

How might a culture with this mentality be influenced in how they interact, trust, and enable young folks?

Evolution is both change and inevitable, change is generally disagreeable.  Maybe there is value or intentional-design in this dissonance commonly found between generations.  Maybe it is mental formations that serve us poorly to keep around.

There are many many assumptions above.  There may be assumptions with too big of a gap to jump, making the thought process above complete garbage.  What's out there that might scratch the surface of closing those gaps?

Just in case, post ways in which the Millennials are succeeding us.

Monday, September 23, 2013

War and Peace

My right hand has written all the poems that I have composed. My left hand has not written a single poem. But my right hand does not think, “Left Hand, you are good for nothing.” My right hand does not have a superiority complex. That is why it is very happy. My left hand does not have any complex at all. In my two hands there is the kind of wisdom called the wisdom of nondiscrimination. One day I was hammering a nail and my right hand was not very accurate and instead of pounding on the nail it pounded on my finger. It put the hammer down and took care of the left hand in a very tender way, as if it were taking care of itself. It did not say, “Left Hand, you have to remember that I have taken good care of you and you have to pay me back in the future.” There was no such thinking. And my left hand did not say, “Right Hand, you have done me a lot of harm—give me that hammer, I want justice.” My two hands know that they are members of one body; they are in each other.
-Thich Nhat Hanh

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Life lessons from Cycling

My husband and I are avid cyclists, endurance, long hours in the saddle and the training time to be able to do so.  You could say it’s part of the glue that nurtured our early relationship.  Shortly before we got married, we bought a tandem bicycle.  Not the kind you leisure on at the beach, but the lightweight aluminum tubes, high performance disk brakes, and itty bitty saddles kind of bike.  We rode this bike fairly often, and as two strong cyclists, we realized we could average high speed on long distances, faster than each of us could average individually (definitely me).

In cycling, or endurance anything, comes an awareness of the physical body and the psychological phases that go with strength and fatigue.  On a tandem bicycle, where both are a contributing engine, the common goal is pungent,  sharing the passion for the undertaking, and the absolute of “doing your best”.  Doing your best sometimes means fresh legs, optimism, friendliness.  More notably though is when doing your best means sitting in, gasping for air, peddling lighter than you or your partner would prefer, and accepting that it is a necessary means to continue on this path together.  To allow, even in your own exhaustion, that your partner needs this time to recover, as a normal ebb and flow of being human.

We had a joke, a joke that spawned from frustration and strain, that is perhaps one that only a couple can humor together: “You’re not peddling hard enough”.  Affectionately, as awareness of each other’s need to sit in and refresh throughout the ride.  With life and two kids, we rarely get the tandem out any more.  But some days, when looking at a sink of dirty dishes, or another chore-in-need, I still hear in my mind an affectionate “You’re not peddling hard enough”, and I move forward knowing that we’re both Doing our Best, every day.

Nutrition Card

Admittedly and proudly, studying nutrition is one of my hobbies.  Nutrition, by which I mean, the act of eating mindfully.  My daughter put it best, "It's good for my mouth, but not good for my belly".  Even at 3 years of age when she said this, she's aware that some foods are better choices than others, and that it effects our moods and energy.  But don't we all stuff the cookie in our mouth regardless at one point or another. Mmmmm, cooookie.

One of the important topics in this blog and in discussion, for me, is the topic of what we eat.  How to minimize the rut of white flour and cheese, and maximize munching sun warmed kale from the garden's edge.  I have a surreal angelic image in my imagination at the moment.  And, how to help my kids make good food choices when they are outside the home.  "Good choices" is such a subjective statement, and the path we walk to attain that is fluid and fascinating.

Here is a card I wrote when my son was young that seems to capture our general nutritional beliefs.  I used this card to help guide our day care family.  As well, it is our grocery buying philosophy.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Happy Labor Day

Let’s start with context about why this is interesting, the video game industry is $10 billion in size.  The US Government software industry is $172 billion.  That’s big! Many of those systems are perceived to be slow to market, unappealing, vast, hard to navigate, and does not meet the needs of citizens.  

Code For America is an ongoing 1 year fellowship program containing 20 talented people who come together each year to not only come up with good ideas that help city and federal governments but also within that year to fulfill these ideas with technology solutions.

The concept is 'Government as a Platform'.  Open platform to enable citizens to do more. (Gethub)

Some of the ideas these teams have uses software not just to support existing processes but also to reinvent services.  Here are some examples of things they have done:
  • Town hall meetings are under-attended and out of date.  Posters throughout the city to text an answer to a question using SMS technology
  • Blight in cities, an app that provides building information, what the city is doing about a particular location.
  • Bus route transit apps with wait times.
  • See More
The group believes that: Government is what we do together, it's not a vending machine where something goes in (taxes) and it spits out services.

Check Out: Honlolulu Answers, a creation from this group.  Video about it.
People go to their local government site typically to figure out an answer to a question.  How to renew a license, business tax information, fishing permits.  They made this site question driven, with the predominant object being the search bar. They made it a community effort to identify the types of questions the citizens would seek to answer on the site. Oakland Answers

I found this to be an inspiring story about how software works for us, and wanted to share it!  Information is based on a speech given by Abhi Nemani, Co-Executive Director for Code For America at Agile Alliance 2013.  

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

5 Senses Game

It is utmost important in my mind that I teach my kids about differences of perspective and that variety is the spice of life.  This is grounded in virtues of equanimity and compassion.  As the Dalai Lama once said, "a super market with just one product is not super.  [Variety is] food for the mind.  Food for the emotions, growth."

I play a game with my kids that they really enjoy.  It has endless possibilities for keeping it interesting.

Sense of Touch:  In the dark at bed time, I collect a few items, toys, tools, materials, ect and one by one hand the item to my child.  I ask them to describe what they feel.  They can't taste, or see, smell, or hear it.  When they're really little, I can coach them with comments like "is it soft or hard, light or heavy, warm or cold, smooth or scratchy".  My older child now is good at describing qualities.  This is a great skill all by itself, but then I ask "what color is it." They usually have an answer, which prompts the discussion of what is truly knowable.

  • Can you really tell from the sense of touch what color it is?  We have a set of plastic critters, a brown bear and a panda bear are included in the mix, both from the same toy mold but painted differently.  
  • We talk about the 6th sense of mental formations, imagination.  It is the picture in their mind that's helping them determine the color.  
  • Is it plausible that the color of the bear is not what you believe it to be?
  • What other senses might you need to find out the answer?

Feeling the shape of a CD, is the music on the CD knowable without using their sense of sight or hearing?
Other senses: find items around the house that have a scent to them.  If you have instruments, use them to make noise.  Forage for some tasty items in the fridge, and turn the lights out.  Point out that eating is both taste and the sense of touch (texture).

The older they get, you can use life examples:
1. The boy was mean to you and doesn't want to be your friend.  How do you know that he doesn't want to be your friend?  Facial expressions, body language, he said so.  Is it plausible that the boy was angry, but that the friendship is not in danger?  What can you do to find out?
2. (For big kids:) Your spouse doesn't like what you cooked, and thinks you are a mediocre chef.  How do you know this to be true?  Is it plausible that your mental formation is incorrect?  What can you do to find out the answer?  And how might you feel or behave differently if you were to find out?

Define Entertainment

Have you ever noticed after watching a comedian, say John Steward or Seinfeld, that you have their canter of joke telling in your mind next time you say something witty.  The pauses and the head motion or eyes.

Or the last time you watched a love movie with your partner, how you may have sat a little closer, or hugged them longer before falling asleep that night.

Or maybe you modified your garden after reading a french novel that detailed out beautiful landscaping within a scene of the book.  

Wrote a note to yourself about a holiday tradition after watching or reading about a lovely idea you think your family would enjoy.

Watch a professional game, and try some of the strategies we saw next time we're on the field.

This list could go on, but also what about books of fables, prayers, jakatas, proverbs, Berenstain bears, and other books with virtuous plots that help teach your child life's examples through story.  And if we're reading a book that isn't directly for this purpose, do we pull out notable events of human interactions: "gee, that boy was mean, how do you think the other person felt."  "That girl used a bad word, in our family, we choose not to use that word."

At what point in our child or adult life do we stop learning from the content we ingest and consume something purely for the purpose of entertainment.  I'm bringing to awareness the justification adults make for themselves or for their children about watching/reading something that is violent, aggressive, mean, discriminating, or any other adjective to describe behavior we ought not mimic.  "It's just entertainment, [it doesn't effect me]".  

Is that possible?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Snot-Nosed Children and their Microbiomes

Michael Pollan - Microbiomes (Click here for article)

This "article" is a small novella, but I enjoy Pollan's writing and perspective on health, food, and the world around us.  I enjoyed this one too.

Short-notes: the science of Microbiomes is brand new, and they make no claims out of certainty, but are confident to recommend diets inclusive of fermented foods (probiotics): kimchi, kombucha, yogurt, saurkraut, lacto-fermented pickles, craft beer (unpasteurized, for real!), ect.   As well, food preparation makes a difference, al dante noodles, crunchy steamed veggies, steal cut oats vs rolled oats.  Fermentation is our friend.

When pathogens and toxic chemicals are involved, wash.  When they are not, consider not washing...your hands, your food, ect.  Munch out of your organic garden with the sun on your back, but wash the grocery store produce.

Additives, antimicrobials and processing of westernized foods adds to the sterility of food, of good and bad bacteria, cutting down on the variety of bacteria present.  Diversity, at least, is a cornerstone belief in microbiology as a good thing.

Fascinating comments on the study of breast milk and early colonization of infants!  Fascinating comments on remote communities of the world!  And lots of implications surrounding better understanding of how healthy gut, mouth, and skin flora may impact our common chronic ailments.  All good reasons to stay tuned as discoveries evolve in this area of study!

Want more (or smaller bites of information)?  American Gut Project

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Compassionate City

Click here for video, TED talk.

"Scripture teaches nothing but charity.  We must not leave an interpretation of scripture until we have found a compassionate interpretation. And this struggle to find compassion in some of these rather rebarbative text, is a good dress rehearsal for doing the same in ordinary life."

"You cannot and must not confine compassion to your own group"

"Any Ideology that is failing to promote a sense of global understanding and global appreciation of each other is failing the test of time"

Compassionate Action Network

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Interconnectivity - “We’re at the light bulb stage of the internet”  20 minute video about inter-connectivity and internet’s role in commerce

There is the obvious counter argument that it’s at the cost of a loss of privacy, and the dangers involved in that. 

There are some statements I don’t agree with, like some statements about our generation being the last “dumb” generation. 

“By 2014 mobile connectivity will have taken over desktop connectivity.” - I'm seeing this trend, though thinking 2015.

What if we can take agriculture from a dependency on poisonous fertilizers to providing exactly what the plants need at the right time to increase yield through sensors.  Is technology the means by which we can return to sustainable cultures?

"What if there is a better model of government than what we've seen in centuries past.  Moving beyond the capacity to “call your congressman”, what if our individual political responsibilities expanded beyond elections to expect informed decisions and more frequent feedback from anyone who volunteers their time, by way of internet.   A bill passes based on a million votes, not the votes of the few in congress.  People would empower themselves to get informed, we have the capacity and the information can be made available.

"There’s the discussion of human connections, that is, real physical presence.  I've spent 10 years mastering productivity and personal fulfillment in my career without direct human interaction.  I believe that it can be achieved 75% with the technology we currently have.  6 years ago it could be achieved about 40%.  And the solution has been to embrace tools that reduce the barriers of standing in front of someone physically, email, skype, video.  Productivity is enhanced over physical presence, in some circumstances, where my entire hard drive is at my fingertips.  Those connections I've drawn together from emails, IMs, observation of a system, knowledge, ect is all right there.  Would 3D skype on a mobile device take that 75% to 80%? 

What do you guys think about the comments around 12:30 in the movie about virtual currencies, Facebook, the bank?
It’s important to teach them the values and necessity of human interaction.  We have not mastered electronic communication.  Tweets, instant messages, even emails still allow each of us to live in our own bubble of perception, and does result in mis-communication.

“We’re at the light bulb stage of the internet”

I feel responsible to understand the actual and potential technological changes so that as a parent (and a self-directed individual) I can teach my kids spiritual, physical, and values of the mind so that they may be applied to this technology and electronic interaction effectively. 

A GREAT couch conversation no less!!  You’re all invited. J

Monday, May 6, 2013

Love and Marriage

If we place trust in our companion to always render happiness, as we wish to do for them, then each time we are hurt, which will happen, is an offense of trust, and suffering is deep.  But if we trust our companion to be a catalyst for awakening, enlightenment, and liberation, suffering caused by the relationship instead empowers us to look deeper in search of the truth, and the bond between us is strengthened. This is love.

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Wiener Debate

Increasingly among mama circles, I'm hearing the discussion whether to use the true anatomical names for our more private parts, or to take the traditional route with cutsie names.  Here's one.  There are strong arguments around  leaving behind the "dirty" connotations, to avoid sexual abuse, and to encourage healthy identity with sexuality paving the way for the future. Fantastic, count me in!

I am all for my children knowing their anatomical parts and names for areas less spoken in our culture.  However...I strongly believe that dirty connotations comes from the tone and intent of the person using them more than word choice.  And, language, both for private and non-private subjects, needs to take into account maturity of the child.  "Did you know there are many names and nicknames for your body parts!" is a great segue to learning additional names when the child is interested.

What if giving your young child the anatomical names for their body parts and requiring them to use the names appropriately lead them to believe that their anatomy is complex, boring, and a bit scary.

Think of other examples where we use nicknames to simplify language for the early years.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Open Source

Rodney Mullen is equally legendary to Tony Hawk in skake boarding progression since its beginning.  He did a TED talk.  He’s a pretty goofy guy and has a good talk.  There’s two points I pulled out that I found most intriguing.  He described it from a skate board perspective, and the progression of that skill, but he applies it to any skill or technology that one may know so well.

13:50 “Open Source basic ethos of it - take what other people do, make it better, give it back so that we all rise further.”

15:40 “What continues to drive you, it's not just the mind, to bring it to another level?  Not fame, fame is fleeting.  It’s peer respect that drives us.”

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Internet: Purposeful!

Media is a tool.  It seems prudent to teach its use from the perspective of a tool.  Think of tools such as a telephone, refrigerator, or knife.  Tools are essential, powerful, purposeful, has boundaries of use, and require respect.

Refrigerators empower a child to get themselves a snack from the bottom shelf.  Wohoo! One step closer to productive independent citizens of the world!  If they leave the door open, the food spoils.  If they fill it full of dirt from the garden, that's gross.  If they get stuck in a fridge, they suffocate.  It's just a fridge, everyone needs one, and we teach our kids how to use it.  Have you noticed yourself teaching fridge lessons?

In teaching the internet, let's start by calling out great opportunities for its use with our kids.  Here are some ideas on how to do that:

  • "Hey kids, I'm in the kitchen and I'm trying to cook a tasty meal.  I'm not exactly sure how I want to season the salmon tonight, so let me grab the tablet (laptop, phone, ect) and search for some ideas."  Share with them the site you go to, the words you search, the results you get, and why you pick one site over another.  There's no age too young to talk about this, get yourself in the habit. Eventually, you can involve them in doing the searching without wiping your hands.
  • "I need to pay the electric bill.  I'm going to log onto our bank site, and create an automatic transfer."  The point isn't to teach them how to pay the bill, rather, that it's a tool that can help.  Use this example to talk about where electric comes from.  If they're old enough, play a naming game of what does and does not use electric around the house. 
  • "Grandma would love to see the holiday pictures while she's visiting, let's show her".  If they don't already know how, teach them to navigate to pictures and drive the "slide show".  Teach them how to scroll slow/fast enough for others to enjoy what they are being shown, and to share stories about the pictures if they can.  Caution: be prepared to segue away from the electronic, pictures are bedazzling.
  • If you are texting, checking email, or many of the other activities that make up the "at least once per hour" statistic, vocalize to your children what you are doing if you are in their presence.  "I'm replying to our friend Mary, she's interested in coming over for dinner on Thursday." or "I'm checking my email, because I'm waiting for a very important message about my schedule tomorrow."   This helps me be more mindful when I choose to check my devices, and occasionally, I realize my reason is not that important.  Use this opportunity to describe the purpose of text messages or emails.
  • Another great one, particularly if you have Facetime, Skype, or other video phone system, let your child be involved in talking to friends or family over the phone.  What aunt doesn't enjoy a dizzying view up your child's nose!?  Teach them how to point, and show them where they can see their own image.  This part of the conversation involves a dual effort to teach good phone/video habits. Older kids can learn how to initiate phone calls, turn on and off the video feature, ect.
  • Think up some other ideas and post them as comments.  The internet is vast, my examples are few!
Once the job is done, teach putting the electronic away.

Time is the Greatest Currency

One of the most important lessons for new internet users and parents alike: time is your most precious resource. So much content, services, social tools, ect are available free of the cost of money.  The cost of your time and attention is being spent.

Time spent using electronic devices
Time spent using certain content

Learning to identify value-adding vs value-reducing time spent.

Let's start with time spent using electronic devices.  Left by themselves, most kids will use the TV, internet, or smart device indefinitely.  They might even forego a potty break than to break their attention from the device.  Where I use the word "kid", also substitute "parent", fortunately our bladders are bigger.  This lesson is relevant to any user of media.  There's more than one right way to teach this, but I find that willful surrender of the media upon rational request is essential.

  1. Establish a time-box or use based on levels played, shows watched, content consumed, defining a duration offered to use the media.  The hard part is holding yourself to them uphold their end of the bargain.  
  2. Setting the expectation that willful surrender is equally important as the duration of use.  Crying, clutching, throwing the device, or the like, results in a temporary loss of future use, for example.
  3. Pick some days of the week that are media free.  Begging and whining after a gentle reminder during media free territory also result in a temporary loss of use.
  4. I also strive to be mindful of my own media usage.  Do I convey an unintended importance toward media with my behavior? 
I am a big fan of gentle reminders.

Next up, lessons around time spent using certain content....

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Internet for Beginners

Many children have access to smart phones and iPads at a very young age. They know how to flip through a picture album, shrink, zoom, and probably delete.

Common Sense Media is a fantastic resource for age appropriate apps.  There are apps for learning colors, numbers, patterns, puzzles, math, spelling, that are free, cheap, and well-rated.  I highly recommend finding some that are specific to your child's development stage.  Spend some time with them, letting them show you how the game is played, and give a little help if they need it.

Cautions: Some apps have ads on the screen that may be accidentally tapped, sending your toddler off onto some content that may not be ideal or offer purchase power.

It's not essential that you have a smart device your toddler can use, but it's also not essential that your toddler knows their ABC's until kindergarten.  I strongly believe that mobile devices are essential tools, and there are smart ways to introduce them.

Age Appropriate Internet

Facebook requires users to be 13 to create an account; there are several community chats that debate whether that is too young or not young enough.  I'm not interested in this debate.  But, I am aware that my children know how to use an iOS system better than I do, that commerce and job applications are predominantly online, and that education surrounding the internet is extremely relevant!

I will use this blog to piece-meal together a curriculum for children, starting as young as the Otter box sheaths your smart phone.  My credentials for this content is that I work in software, my job doesn't exist without an internet connection, and that I am as resourceful as anyone else to raise the questions.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Relational Aggression

I was reading an excerpt from a book called NurtureShock (by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman).  It has a great description of something about kids entertainment that I've been trying to put my finger on for 6 years.  

Relational Aggression! 

Fine, so Nemo isn't inherently a violent movie, there's no Batman fights. However, it has constant flow of examples of relational aggression, that is, social exclusiveness, and subtle meanness (or snarky) in character interaction, behavior that treats another character as unworthy, or incapable, for example.  And while Disney movies, Clifford, Sponge Bob and many other popular kid shows may (infrequently) have a redeeming lesson to the relational example, young kids often miss it.  

This book also cites a study that finds kids are 2.5 times more likely to behave relationally aggressive than they are physically or verbally aggressive who watch shows (they pick up these other aggressive behaviors from shows too, just less).  96% of all children's programming includes this behavior, including educational shows.  I wonder how much of adult programming has it, and how often we mimic the behavior as adults?

So there's a name for this underlying disdain I have for child entertainment. Wohoo!  ...Not that I think it's the cause of poor behavior on its own, it's just not contributing to desirable behavior.

I am what I think

I find the more that I am absorbed in teachings and sound materials, the more creative and flexible I can be in the ebb and flow of life.  The more content I encounter that does not uphold these values, such as most television shows, some conversations, ect, I struggle more.  That is also in part motivating me to study skillfully.  


I wish to provide my children a way to recognize their own inner leading, to give them tools for life that enable them to be happy and define their own success, and importantly, do so in a way that reinforces the same tools, practices, thought processes, and content that supports my connected-ness with my inner leading, and defining my own success. Taking that journey together through life.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Mission Statement

Our children are born competent whole people.  Parents are competent whole people.  

This Circle promotes immersion into the subjects surrounding the parent (and partners) we wish to be, giving us support to stay in the mindset we wish to have, and the creativity to match our behavior to our beliefs.  As we are faced with challenges and new frontiers, we have a proactive tool belt with which to utilize.

The tool belt to strive for that 1% better, all the time.