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Category Archives: Family

I found Pete

Or, more accurately, I found that the hound had been found.

Not a day goes by where we don’t hear about the perils of social media. PR disastersMissing childrenBad judgment leading to getting fired. Clearly, the socially-enabled world can be a double-edged sword.

But sometimes, six degrees of social media actually comes in handy.

This is Pete, a cute little Boston Terrier. Although I’ve never met Pete, I know he belongs to some friends who live in an adjoining neighborhood.

When I saw a post on my Facebook wall that Pete had gone missing a few days ago, I was concerned.

This is Pete, a Boston Terrier.

When I saw a post on my Facebook wall that Pete had gone missing a few days ago, I was concerned (who doesn’t hate seeing a missing best friend) but I didn’t really know how to help. Especially since Pete was not wearing a collar or microchip.

Who doesn't hate seeing a dog go missing?

Who doesn’t feel terrible when they see a pup go missing?

Then, this morning, I saw another post. This one in my neighborhood’s community site, which said that a small Boston Terrier was found by a neighbor on my street. Apparently Pete got spooked by the New Year’s fireworks and ran out of his back yard, into our neighborhood.

Then I saw this message.

Then I saw this message on our neighborhood’s community website.

When I read this, I knew that Pete was safe. Luckily, I had seen both posts and immediately connected the dots. I contacted my friends and they came to pick up Pete. Reunion complete, and happy families all around.

A simple example of successful social connections, to be sure. But this time, social media came to the rescue!

 
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Posted by on January 2, 2014 in Family, Random, Thoughts

 

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It should be called “Pretty Good” Wolf

Thinking about taking the family on a road trip to Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine, TX? Here’s what you need to know.

Crowds are the enemy of places like this and can quickly sap the fun out of an otherwise enjoyable experience. IF AT ALL POSSIBLE, try to plan your trip midweek and avoid holidays. Otherwise it can get very crowded and you could be stuck driving around the parking lot looking for spaces, standing in long lines for water rides, and at the mercy of the worst manners you’ve ever seen at the buffet.

Still, there’s a lot to like about Great Wolf. You have to hand it to them: they have put a lot of thought into what families with kids need. Namely, comfortable accommodations and activities for children of all ages (though teenagers are probably too cool for most of it)…including the water park, the Magiquest wizard game, story time with animatronic and costume characters, coloring stations, and more.

What that means is there are kids everywhere. Literally. So if you’re the type of person who gets upset at the screaming baby two rows behind you on the airplane, this is probably not the place for you.

But for families there are lots of little touches that you just don’t find at other resorts…covered power outlets for wandering toddler fingers, rounded corners on the furniture and large spacious room with sleeping options. And there is just enough for the adults too – a decent bar, Starbucks, hot tub and a spa. As this was our 3rd visit here, we felt comfortable letting our 11-year old and his friends roam around most of the day without much supervision, checking in occasionally, though some parents will want to stick closer by.

Here are a few more pros and cons…

PROS
– Everything under one roof
– Nice bar, Starbucks for adults
– Older kids can go around on their own
– Life guards are very good and alert
– Free wifi (not very fast but solid connections in most locations)
– Lots of activities
– Can be reasonable if you wait for a good deal

CONS
– Kids running around everywhere (well, what did you expect?) including the hallways outside the guest rooms
– Chlorine smell is overwhelming as soon as you walk in the water park
– Very loud inside water park
– Water is tooooo cold! You might get used to it eventually but it sure is less enjoyable than it could be. Almost everyone agrees it’s just too cold, especially for an indoor water park.
– Food is adequate, but will not blow you away. It’s basically equivalent to a Golden Corral or similar. And overpriced for the quality. But it’s convenient and edible.
– If you have a room at the end of the hallway, you will be in for some very long walks.
– Crowded at times

So what do you think? Have you been to Great Wolf? How was your stay?

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Posted by on April 1, 2013 in Family, Travel

 

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A “Twisted” new post

It’s been quite awhile since I’ve posted a blog. Having twins under two years old has a way of doing that to a guy. While alls well on that front, it’s time to write again.

And what do I write about when it’s time to write? Well, writing. Specifically, my mom’s writing. My mother’s first novel, a psychological suspense entitled Twisted, has been published and is now available for purchase on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kindle, among others.

Needless to say, I’m a super-proud son.

If you’ve spent any time in the writing world, or know anyone who has, you know how incredibly difficult the process is to get your work officially published. My mom has been at it for years with weekly writing groups, conferences, manuscripts and discussions with editors. For a publisher to take a chance on a “new” writer is third-party validation that your work is worth doing. It also — and perhaps most importantly — means the publisher thinks they can make money off your work.

So it’s a great accomplishment. And now it’s time to do your part to help. Download a Kindle version, or buy the paperback for yourself. Read and post a review. And if all goes well, look for the next book someday soon by Marjorie E. Brody!

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Posted by on March 30, 2013 in Family, Thoughts

 

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The modern-day lemonade stand

Kids these days. Who needs an MBA anymore when you can just open your own business in the garage?

My 10-year old son has taken the concept of a neighborhood lemonade stand to another level. Only this time he’s not donating proceeds to charity. He’s in business for himself.

Along with several other committed kids in the neighborhood, he’s created a bike repair service called Opie’s Bike Repair in our garage. As the “general manager,” he pays the other kids a “salary,” which we’ll get to a little later.

Most of the time they spend sitting in the garage, waiting for the phone to ring or a random customer to happen by. They’ve made a bit of money doing various bike jobs for friends and family, and they’ve reinvested it in the company, after paying out expenses.

Understanding the need for additional customers, they’ve started marketing with a website, created special offers, and plastered flyers all over the neighborhood. Recognizing there is a limited potential market for bike repair services in our neighborhood, they’ve recently added car washing to the menu of Opie’s services.

And they’re already getting a taste of labor disputes with the employees (a.k.a friends) demanding to be equal partners in the enterprise instead of specialists hired to do a job. As a result, my son sent a memo to the staff requesting feedback on how to make work more fun, via anonymous notes dropped in a mailbox. Employee engagement 101!

As a parent, it’s a fine line between encouraging enterprising behavior and being the voice of reality. For example, when they wanted to add a new phone number for the business, I told them that would cost around $30/month, which they didn’t realize. Of course, that’s not in their budget and so the news was hard to take. On the other hand, they’re learning nothing in life is free and you have to work hard to make something succeed. It’s difficult not to just tell them how to do things, because I want them to have some success. After all, isn’t this how Bill Gates and Mark Cuban and Steve Jobs got started? I’m just hoping the friendship dynamics on the street don’t get permanently bent out of shape while they figure it out.

What’s amazing to me through all this is that the lessons my 10-year-old is learning are on some levels the same ones any small business owner learns. And I hope that the experience he’s gaining today will help him succeed in the future. By the time these kids get to college, business degree curriculum is going to need a major update.

But, until then, the next time you have bicycle in need of repair or a car that needs washing, remember Opie’s, just down the street.

 
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Posted by on August 20, 2012 in Business, Family, Thoughts

 

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No monkeying around: My 10-year-old has a blog

My 10-year-old “baby” boy is blogging. This is the new normal.

I don’t know if should be worried or proud.

But one thing’s for sure…the kid’s got initiative.

See, somewhere he heard that certain species of monkeys are endangered. In his research, he found the World Wildlife Fund website and discovered their adoption program. For $50 you can select an animal species to adopt and WWF sends you a certificate with photos and info about the actual animal you select in the wild. The money goes to conservation, habitat preservation, and supporting the long-term survival of the species.

He has chosen to save the monkeys.

And he’s not stopping at one. He wants to raise $100 to adopt two animals.

And in less than two hours today he had his own blog on WordPress (with a little help from Dad, but not much)! As of this writing, he has already collected $33.11.

So visit his site at bensavesthemonkeys.wordpress.com and consider donating to his cause.* He has pledged to keep his site updated with his fundraising progress, and if you give money, he will send you a copy of the adoption certificate.

*Secure donations can be made with credit cards made through Dad’s PayPal account.

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Posted by on March 28, 2012 in Family, Random, Thoughts

 

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A snowboarding primer for skiers

I’ve been skiing for about 20 years so I consider myself a pretty decent skier. I usually eat blue slopes for breakfast and occasionally shred some black diamonds with moguls. So when our 10-year-old son begged us to take him snowboarding this year, I figured it would be an easy transition.

Boy, was I wrong!

The first thing you need to know is that snowboarding and skiing are two totally different things. The muscles are different. The technique is different. About the only similarity is that you’re sliding down a snow-covered mountain. Where skiing is about coordination and rhythm, snowboarding is all balance and footwork. Snowboarding is to skiing what rugby is to touch football.

And here’s the proof, a quick video of our first snowboarding trip…

So if you’re an experienced skier interested in making the leap to a board, let me break it down for you…

Equipment
Boots: Ski boots are extremely rigid, hard plastic shoes that transfer every subtle movement to the ski. Snowboard boots are more flexible shoes that lace up like heavy duty mountain hiking boots. Ski boots are storm troopers to snowboard boots’ Michelin man. Advantage: Snowboarding.

Bindings: Skis are designed to have your boots snap into place, and release when you twist or fall. Snowboards require your feet to be strapped in without releasing upon wipeouts. It’s a somewhat awkward movement to have your lead foot strapped in while your back foot is loose. This is necessary when getting on and off the lifts and for moving along flat landings. In addition, on skis, you exit the chair lift and immediately start down the hill. Snowboarding requires you to literally sit on the snow to strap your other foot to the board after the lift. Every time. Advantage: Skiing.

Boards/Skis: Obviously skiing uses two skis and two poles, which makes carrying and walking in those boots really challenging. Skis are also heavier than snowboards. Carrying a snowboard is easily done by holding the flat side next to your body and grabbing the board right under the top binding. Advantage: Snowboarding.

Technique
Downhill: The act of skiing involves basically aiming your feet in parallel, and turning in in a big ‘S’ pattern. As you get more advanced you can point straight down and grab your edges into the snow to slow down. It’s closer to standing and leaning, while you traverse the mountain. Because both feet are on a single board in snowboarding, the same method doesn’t translate. Instead, balance is the whole thing. You either lift your toes to dig your heels into the snow, or lift your heels to slow and turn, depending on which way you’re facing. But dig too deeply either way and you’re going down hard. Advantage: Skiing.

Lifts: As I mentioned, snowboarding is tougher to get on chair lifts, because you have to unstrap your back foot and slide into place. At the top, you still have only one foot in, so you have to get off the lift and get yourself out of the way before finding a place to sit and strap the other foot. In skiing it can sometimes be difficult to move yourself into position for the lift, but not having to adjust or unstrap every time, makes it more efficient. Advantage: Skiing.

Overall
Most skiers I talked to said they had a rough time trying to snowboard, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you will. Both sports are fun and have their pros and cons. Overall, it just depends what you want to do and what you enjoy. Just know that ability in one doesn’t automatically translate to the other. Advantage: You decide!

 
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Posted by on February 5, 2012 in Family, Thoughts, Travel

 

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6 ways to stay positive in any situation

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I saw this blog post the other day and thought it had a nice sentiment on how to stay positive even when things are down. If you don’t want to click over, here’s what it said…

The power of remaining positive, whatever the situation, can never be underestimated. We are all here for a limited period of time, is it worth it to spend any of that time in a dismal mood? Being negative?

The true test of an individual to remain positive is when challenges become difficult. Remaining positive keeps one’s mind in the right state of balance and often opens resolutions to the problems at hand. Negativity is contagious; not only does it affect the individual, but it spreads to anyone they interact with. When only the negative perspective is in focus, the resolution process is impeded.

Eliminating negativity, or rather, being positive is a mindset that can be found at any moment, and turned into a habit. Here are some tips that can help you in shifting your mindset:

1. Shift Your Thoughts – Be conscious of your thoughts. Especially, when life just isn’t going your way. The moment you see that you are diving into frustration, agony, sorrow and low self-esteem – shift your thoughts, by thinking about something completely unrelated. This breaks the pattern of self-pity, mind-created stories, and negative downward spiral. What makes us different from other mammals is our ability to control our thoughts and think for ourselves.

2. Find the Lesson – There is a lesson to be learned from every situation. No matter how unfortunate the situation may appear, recognize the beautiful lessons waiting to be discovered. Sometimes lessons are expensive, but every problem is a learning opportunity in disguise. You may have made a mistake, but now you can accept it and continue, knowing that you will make a different decision in the future. Understand this and be appreciative for the experience.

3. Attitude of Gratitude – You cannot be both angry and grateful at the same time. Start counting the blessings and miracles in your life, start looking for them and you shall find more. What’s there not to be grateful? You are alive and breathing! Realize how lucky you are and all the abundance in your life.

4. Positive Affirmations & Visualization – Practice seeing yourself in a positive and confident light. Do this whenever you have a few minutes (examples; Waiting for a friend, sitting on the bus, riding an elevator.) Self-affirmations (list of positive statements about yourself and your self image) are another simple and powerful tool to train your subconscious to see yourself in a positive light. This is important, as many of us can be so hard on ourselves though social conditioning. I am guilty of being extra tough on myself, but have learned over time to recognize my gifts rather than finding false and self-imposed inadequacies.

5. Inventory of Memories – Keep an inventory of memories that can immediately make you smile. Occasions where you felt happy, appreciative and cheerful. When you were at peace with the world.

Whenever you are in a negative frame of mind, consciously and deliberately pick up any leaf out of this inventory and dwell on it. Reminiscing those happy moments gives a balanced perspective to your situation. You realize that what appears negative today will change tomorrow. Nothing stays the same.

6. Criticizing Detox Diet – Change your approach and attitude. See if you can stop criticizing others and situations. Our cultural conditioning teaches us to find flaws and problems at all times. Shift from fault-finding to appreciation-finding.

Whether you are positive or negative, the situation does not change. So, we mind as well be positive.

As with any habit, the habit of remaining positive in all situations takes practice and a commitment to yourself to take control. But start small, start paying attention to your emotions, start by wanting to change. I am working on this constantly, and I am here with you, working towards better understanding of my emotions and becoming a better person. Keep going at it, and you will gradually become a positive energy source for the others around you! Wouldn’t that be empowering?

 
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Posted by on January 30, 2012 in Family, Random, Thoughts, Work

 

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