Tag Archives: child development

So Recently Summer

I’ve been playing a lot over the last year or so with the camera settings on my phone camera, things like the white balance, the shutter speed and the ISO (light sensitivity). 20180805_181606 copyMostly I’ve found a lot of interest with the white balance such that mostly the blue end of the spectrum shows in pictures.

Such as in this one.


However, these recent shots resulted when I switched to the other extreme of filtering out the blue end instead. 20180805_183406 copy 2






Me and the ever-steadily-ascending kidlings. Enjoy.

K & J 818




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Virtual Reality 1: Muzik…Non Stop

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Ahh, yes.


There’s a recent author (must look this up!…update: Jennifer Sessions) who described the experience of being a SCC 222 1parent as “having a piece of yourself in someone else’s body.” ~ crxn to: “your heart running around in somebody else’s body.”

Just so, indeed!

And music, one of my favorite things, has presented an occasion that illustrates this through my little ‘uns. (Though–as the saying goes–not to little anymore.)


I consciously connected to music when I was about 16, but coverFmy intertwining with music occurred later, beginning a little before I turned 18. Certainly within a few years I became intricately lost in it to the point that I realized the truism once stated by Mike Manumission (host of a big club in Ibiza) that “if you keep finding that you’re the last one at the party, that’s a sign you should be the one throwing the Beatles-Revolver-Sessions-2party.” This has over the years taken the form of working sales for an underground music label and dance 2002_04_17_DSCN0903_Qool copymusic distribution company, DJing, producing and hosting musically based events (nightclubs), composing and producing music and being a music journalist.

Even though I’ve made music, I’ve done so with no musical training or practice on a traditional instrument as such.

And so watching my kids both engage with music through school is just the sort of thing, IMHO, that parenting is about. That is, adding to the traits, strengths, etc that your kids SCC 222 2inherited from you with things you didn’t get or have the benefit of. In my view, this works best when it isn’t forced on them, and so it is that both kids have independently chosen to participate in music and carry on with it. Big yay!

It’s like watching a part of yourself do the thing, or maybe closer to a VR experience of the thing they’re doing since the thing they’re doing is thing beyond your own actual experience. It’s the thing you would be doing, could be doing but for circumstances. The beauty of  it is that your extensions–they get to do it, are doing it and that’s just why kids exist–are had at all.

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In short, it’s quite thrilling, life-affirming and great to see, for instance, my kid in the sort of all-school concert like I did some days ago and at which these pictures were taken.

She’s 13, now, and has been playing flute for two years. They sounded genuinely terrific.




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Catching Up Again!


Yes indeedy heeby do. I am, ummm, yeah, soooo…how are YOU?

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Yeah, ok, so I’m super behind on my posting. But it’s good stuff, and thus perhaps worth the weight…in gold. Har har…see, such puns are why I need an editor! lol

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more pictures of my little lovelies. And how about the Lego Movie?? Freakin’ totally fun, nifty, and made all the more amazing (and awesome) by its meta view of itself, framing itself as it did, umm, well, within..heck *you* the home audience know what I mean, right?


Tiny creations from clay by daughter; this tableaux is 2 inches across.

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                              This is a creature dreamed up by my son: a species of dragon known as “Odin Spearthrower”


Interior of daughter’s locker at school (winter decor, dontchya know)


                                             Another species of benevolent beasty my son’s created: A crazy powerful puff ball…

And with that, then was now was then again, and all very quickly

These crowd shots are from the excellent, thoughtful and not overly maudlin annual end-of-the-schoolyear ritual their school does called the “Crossing Over” ceremony, where each grade level group of kids forms a phalanx as you see, and then BANG! charges ahead to cross over to the launching pad of their next grade level; into their futuinto it2res. And parents, snap snap away the pictures, because if you blink ya miss it. Every minute that into itticks along also talks: “bye”, it says. I’m getting older and growing. The future has zoomed them into it almost as fast as they’ve smiled their speed of light way headlong into it.

And…DSC00017 copy

I’m also finishing preparing the short videos of them killing at their school talent show from the last part of last school year (ie, this recent spring). I’ll post them tonight or tomorrow I hope. They’re short. And sweet. And awesome.

Here’s a thought to chew on, and it’s something I put to a friend many years ago, a guy who is rarely without an answer or opinion on any sort of thing. But when I put this to him, he was actually caught having not thought this through, with an opinion that if you looked closely, you might just be able to actually see forming and “form of”…divided priorities. But I’m not pointing that out to single him out; it’s a genuine issue that we all as parents answer with our actions, with more or less ever detail of our lives.

Ok, here it is:

Do you want to conduct yourself so that your kids have all the chances to be great, or do you want to be great?

And while the clever little folkies out there will pipe-in with right about now, I have this pre-packaged response: just because it is possible (for some people) that the question won’t have any purchase because they are not, for them, mutually exclusive foci does not eliminate its relevance for a good many people who are parents as well. Basically, if the question resonates at all, then it’s one to chew on. If it doesn’t cuz you have your whole thing nicely dialed in (ie, you direct everything toward making sure your kids have all the chances to be great…hee hee lol! ;-) then just sit back & enjoy the pictures.

To your kids and my kids and their kids and our kids.

And btw, here’s a favorite song about kids. It sounds like vapid nonsense at first, but I assure you, that’s just the extremely clever packaging.

“Now if I had some children, they’d be some Chinese children…”

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So I’m calling today a “2”-day.

Why, you ask?

Well, because it’s March 6, 2012… 3 (March) x 2 = 6, and 6 x 2 = 12! Hey!

And I use this arbitrary bit of arithmatic silliness as my flimsy excuse to share with you, my lovely and faithful readers, these portraits I made of each of my (one, two) children. Portraits that I made inspired by a notion to in some accessible and visual (and, one hopes, humorous manner) to each of them that — at least in my view — they’re both epically powerful people.

And really in all honesty this came about because there’s a picture from a while back of my son where his face happens to remind me uncannily of a certain shot of a statue of Augustus. Yes, THAT Augustus. So a little image manipulation later, et viola!



And basically, all that aside, these pictures, man…they make me smile and laugh every single time I see them.




Coda: I showed them to the kids and they loved them; but my son requested that I add a beard to his statued visage. And so I did. Enjoy!

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Ultimate Libraries — happy birthday to my mother, DMC!

For she who gifted me with loving books, I present this gallery from the book Temples of Knowledge: Historical Libraries of the Western World, by photographer Ahmet Ertug. I was going to do the right thing and BUY the book for her, but don’t have $7500 layin’ around. What the! Thank heavens for the website.

Each of the thumbnails below can be clicked to see the the larger, sumptuous version. Share your favorite in a comment, and I’ll share mine. :-)


02/15/2011 · 5:11 pm

Three doctors…or …How I learned to stop worrying and love making dopey halloween decorations

Halloween, as you might know, is one of my High Holy Days. Still just love it to death.

And so here is a very short movie I made from this Halloween, 2010. As you can see, there are two videos. One is a kid-friendly version, and the other is for the grown-ups. They’re not really all that different, but somehow the soundtrack songs make allll the difference, such that the song I used on what came to be called the grown-up version warps the whole narrative of the thing. Whatever, I’ll shut up. :-)

After the vids is then a funny li’l tale of how my goofy halloween decor led to my son inadvertently revealing that he’s now a reader! (insert biiiig daddy grin). Here are the videos.

(Since the hotlinks in this post are truly hot, and since I don’t know how many of you click on them usually, I’ve extracted them, and you’ll find a list of the links at the end.)

I. “The conference of Education Doctoral Research on Early Child Development is happy to welcome Dr. Jeanne S. Chall…”

Ah, reading.

It is, of course, a fundamental underpinning of navigating life. Since I’m a writer and my lovely wife has advanced degrees and my many and stuffed bookshelves form a fundamental underpinning of our home decor — and since we have both always been aware of the critical importance of the various things you can do to prime kids for reading readiness, I’ve just never stressed at all about our two kids learning to read. I knew it would emerge organically, and they’d both get the skill solidly and masterfully. Bolstering this confidence is also the fact that in 2004 I took a job teaching reading to all ages, and the job involved a month of intensive, full-time training, in which I learned enlightening information on how it all works, and methods for making it work, no matter what.

Such assurance, however, in no way diminished the sentimentalist Dad in me from experiencing utter joyous rapture and pride from on high at moments when my kids have unintentionally revealed their reading ability to me. And they both have, at almost the identical points in their learning processes, basically just as they are starting to “decode” as it’s called in the parlance of teachers (and other such holy warriors, cuz they are!)

It seems important that both of them generally have seemed staunchly determined to keep their acquisition of this skill as under wraps as they can to me. They both would act like they were not as far along as they actually were. It was only when my back was turned, or their guard was down for another reason that I was able to observe that they both were, or are as the case may be, further along than they wanted me to know. Frankly I’m not sure what’s up with that. But whatever it is, it hasn’t at all hindered their learning of reading; if anything, it’s like they’ve been trying to learn it so well that I don’t “get to see” until they’re ready to show off…or something like that. Who knows.

II. “Theodor S. Geisel, better known to the world as Dr. Suess…”

My daughter’s moment happened a little over 2 and a half years ago, and I wrote about it at that time on the blog. You can read it here. It’s charming and has killer links; I’ve incorporated the links in this part, too, since they’re essential reading.

My son’s happened last week, when he and his sister were checking out the tombstones made from cardboard that I had decorated our front garden areas with while they had slept the night night before, thus officially marking ours as a “Halloween House”. And again, per the point above, his official line to me is “I can’t read yet”. (He used to pretend not to know certain letters; I only figured out he was pretending when I overheard him correct his sister one day on some letters in a sign! lol)

III. “Dr….Frankenstien, I presume?”

So here’s the setup. As you can see in the video(s) one family name only fills the makeshift little cardboard cemetery. See, I started with Homer Simpson cuz I have that Simpson’s trivia game that has Homer’s head, and ran with the idea of using it as part of the halloween levity. After making his tombstone, I thought, well, I don’t want to tax my poor old brain too much so I also then ran with the idea of just making all the tombstones Simpson tombstones (adding the cheeseball embellishment of altering the spelling on the older generations’ tombstones to “Symps’n”)

So as my son, (let’s call him “Jolly”) is standing there looking at them, he asks me, “Why did you make them all Simpsons?”

As usual, my forever dorky inner geek-self stepped up first to react, and I cocked my head and started to form the first sentence of a response that basically amounted to “it was easier than finding a bunch of other names”. Thankfully, my executive function or something approximating it took over and I smiled at him, leaned down and said, “Wait just a minute, buddy,” and he looked at me slightly apprehensively until my big fat dumb smile must have let him know all was well, and he started smiling. I got him up in my arms and stood and said, “How did you know they all said ‘Simpson’, my friend?” Hee hee. I had him. He darted his eyes back to the tombstones and then to me and was totally at a loss. I speculate that he recognizes the word “simpson” and saw that it was repeated across the “tombstones”, rather than actually decoded, but it’s delightful evidence that he’s not only past the point of what’s called “reading readiness”, and is deploying the skills of recall and recognition of words toward what will very shortly become fluent reading.

Made my heart leap for joy, anyway. So I kissed him, pet his head many times (studies have pointed to a correlation between the touch on a child’s head with stimulation of neuronal growth) and complemented him very privately into his ear, which made him grin and plop his head onto my shoulder and hug me tighter. Then I put him back on the ground and he and his sister started talking about how the spider webs in the corners made the house also look spooky. But those are always there, I said. But they both stuck to their case. At that moment I was so aglow they coulda milked me for just about anything. Writing this I now realize that I need to cherish these times when a mere opinion is all they want to convince me of, and not — as when they’re older and wiser — to buy them something expensive, let them take the car, let them go to the rock show with that boy…and so on.

Btw, her costume is a leopard. His is a spirit warrior, based around the mask, which is his handiwork.


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Look! Say!: Dr. Chall and Dr. Seuss Win the Day!! (Archive)

(this was originally posted on Jan 5, 2008)

Or as I like to call them, Thing 1 and Thing 2. hee hee hee

See, I had a very special private and glorious moment given to me the other day. Granted I DID think to pay attention…and I have consciously sculpted my whole fathering world around engendering events like the one I’m about to relate, but STILL! (Not to mention that both my ex and myself were reading novels by age 9, and that she has been seamlessly and constantly surrounding the kids with letters and we’ve read to them every night since birth…but STILL!)

So my daughter, let’s call her “Silly”, is 4 and a half. The other day I was doing some dishes, her little brother (2 years and three months, now) was playing in the street with broken glass or something, and Sally was directly behind me, leaning-bending-goofing on the arm and back of my futon couch. I heard her mumble something and asked what she said, thinking she was speaking to me.

She said, “Oh, nothing, Dad. I’m just talking to my self.” Ok, cute enough and all that. But I still turned the faucet down a little to lessen the noise of the water and cocked my head a little to foster a little better hearing of just what she was “mumbling”.

“ahhhyyyy llluv ….” a bit of a pause, “toooo reee-ahhd.” Then she restated the entire sentence she had in fact just decoded: “I love to reee-uh-dd.”

I guess I’ve been Dadding long enough that an auto-response was already taking hold of my posture (leaning forward, out of the “I want to listen to her”-zone), facial expression (starting to smile that amused smile of the parent when hearing nonsense baby-babble) and feeling (happy resignation that I had not overheard something that might rip my heart out — a feeling fueled entirely by knowing that separation and divorce is hard on kids) when that whole process was halted BOOM! stop-me-in-my-tracks suddenly as I reacted to what I’d actually just heard.

Before the next instant, I need to let the gentle reader know that I joined this Dr. Seuss book club recently and one of their little “Thanks for giving us your money” dealios was this mini-book-bag, (just the size of Dr. Seuss books, dammit I KNOW there must be a connection! ;-) featuring a typically bemused Cat in the Hat with a speech-bubble proclaiming, “I Love to Read!” Yeah, it’s a little cheesy. Yeah, it does veer a leeeetle bit close to the world of flash-cards and too-many-classes that I utterly abhor in contemporary parenting in America…but it’s essentially cute. You know, for kids.

So standing there at my dishes, frozen, remembering the bag, I look around for it. Sure enough, of course, it’s hanging on a door handle and is precisely what Sally was looking at. (She was looking at it quite intently and did not give any indication that she’d seen me look at her.)

I watched this all feeling bizarrely detached — perhaps a lingering professional detachment from having taught reading to kids in 2004. I’d just had a front-row seat for a “Moment” that I assumed out of hand would occur elsewhere, like at school: I’d just heard my kid learn to read. Realizing this I immediately asked her again, “What did you say, honey?”

My head was still slightly turned, my eyes cast down to the right corner to see her, but my hands carried on busily with the dishes; I had tried not to sound overly interested.

She rocked gently the way little kids do, bobbing her head a little while staring dead-set on the bag’s words, and looked very much like she was now truly listening to her internal monologue that was a confirmation that she had indeed decoded the letters. But she told me, “Oh, nothing. I told you, I’m just talking to myself.”

I really wanted to play dumb and let her keep this moment semi-private, as she partially appeared to want. But I couldn’t help myself and the part of me built on “love, praise, encourage, celebrate-triumphs in kids” won and I exuberantly leaned down and beamed at her something like, “Well, baby, I know what you just did! You can READ, Silly! You just READ that bag, honey!” I kissed her head her cheek her head again and declared a couple times how awesome it was, how awesome she was. I think I might have tried to join her game at that point and said something like, “But I won’t tell anyone, you don’t have to worry.”

So don’t any of you, like, go and tell her I told you, ‘k? Or I’ll have to let Thing 1 and Thing 2 loose to do a thing or two to YOU!

Originally Posted by KC at 12:15 AM Saturday, January 5, 2008

Labels: cat in the hat, dr. seuss, early reading, fatherhood, jeanne chall, literacy, parenting, phonemes, phonics, reading development, stages of reading development, stimulating environment

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