I am a radical parent.

My wife and I are trying something radical in parenting. We’re spending some time with our kids.

Okay, maybe it isn’t radical. In fact, it is probably the definition of parenting, but it is something that can be a challenge when your schedule is full of projects and work and household chores and hobbies and such. To make sure that we spend time with our kids, we’re scheduling it.

Wednesday nights after dinner are now reserved for 1-on-1 parent/daughter time until bedtime. My wife takes one daughter to the kitchen where she gets to don a special hat, apron, and oven mitt while I take the other daughter to the basement for some video games or Lego playtime. We all get to do something that we like–spend time with our kids and enjoy some personal interests–and our kids get some personal attention. And each week, we switch daughters.

I know, it probably sounds like a no-brainer, but being intentional about any activity, including fun ones, takes dedication. We’ve had one of these Wednesday night 1-on-1 times so far, and it was a ton of fun. I really want them to continue, I’m hoping for a long time to come.

Here’s a few pictures from that first one.

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Do you have any suggestions for what we should call these nights? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Also, do you have ideas for kid-friendly/healthy recipes that we could use in the kitchen with our kids? Please share those too!


Friday 5 | Click-worthy Links

Wireless Computer Mouse with Wheel

Here are 5 more places online worth checking out:

  1. Since I worked in a bookstore for 10 years, I can tell you that the saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” is completely wrong. You can TOTALLY judge a book by its cover. That’s how books pull you in before you have read anything about them. And now, they’ve made a game of it!
  2. If you haven’t seen it yet, there’s a new fan theory floating around the internet about Harry Potter and the Deadly Hallows. I won’t go into it here, but if you are a Harry Potter nerd, you probably need to read this.
  3. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The robot revolution is here.
  4. I’m color blind. Maybe that’s why I prefer wearing blacks and dark grays (at least, I assume I’m wearing blacks and dark grays, but how can I be sure?). But, whenever I see studies about how color affects people, I’m interested anyway. Here’s one that was kind of interesting.
  5. In a bold move that I really hope works out for them, one brick and mortar bookstore is taking on online booksellers by buying most of the stock of one physical book. It’s a bold move, and since I’m such a fan of real bookstores, I hope it pans out for them.


On the Origin of Lunch

ducktales_lunchboxHave you ever wondered where we got the word “lunch”? Everyone seems to know that breakfast is a combination of “break” and “fast” which is the meal where you stop your overnight fast (or period of not eating). And supper and dinner are pretty easy to see as extensions of sup and dine, both of which mean to eat. But where the heck did lunch come from? Let’s trace it back.

Lunch comes from its longer form, “luncheon”. And while that makes sense, it is hardly a satisfying answer. So what is the origin of luncheon? The answer is kind of complex.

Luncheon is probably a combination of the Spanish word “lonja”–which means a slice of meat, specifically a loin–and the Middle English word “nuncheon”–which itself is a combination word of “noon” and “schench” which is an Old English word that means to drink.

So what do you get when you combine the words for drink, noon, and meat?

You get lunch! Now let’s eat!

100 Word Story | Noah Looked Worried


Noah looked worried.

He had never before been vomited upon by a pretty nurse and he didn’t know the protocol.

“Are you okay?” he ventured. “I could grab a paper towel or something.”

She started crying, tears leaving her face red, but slightly less covered in sick.

“I’m sorry,” she tried to say and found she couldn’t. Instead, she closed her eyes and breathed softly.

Noah found her beautiful.

“Would it help if I did the shot myself?” he asked.

The nurse looked at him and cautiously handed him the syringe.

Unfortunately, Noah couldn’t stand needles either, and promptly threw up on her.


Thanks for the Feedback with Sheila Heen


Every year, corporations spend millions of dollars in training their managers how to give feedback to their employees, but it is the receiver who is in charge in any feedback situation. The problem isn’t that companies don’t give their employees enough feedback; it is that companies don’t know how to receive feedback.

What is feedback? Feedback is all of the information out there about you. It is your relationship with the world and the world’s relationship with you. The mirror offers us feedback on what we look like at the moment. Our Facebook feeds offer us feedback on our interests and interactions. And the church gossip who is talking about us behind out back is offering a kind of feedback as well.

According to Sheila Heen, there are two basic human needs:

  • The need to learn and grow.
  • The need to feel accepted, respected, or loved the way we are now.

Feedback often feels like it puts these two things in opposition to each other, but that is because we don’t know how to receive it. Let’s look at the three different kinds of feedback out there.

  • Evaluation – This is where you rank among peers.
  • Coaching – This is what helps you learn and grow.
  • Appreciation – This is what helps people feel like they matter. It keeps us motivated.

To put this into context, imagine the last time you got back a term paper from school. Evaluation is the grade on the back page. Coaching is the comments in red ink that tell you what was wrong and how to improve. Appreciation is the teacher’s message on the front that says, “Great job!”

Every organization needs all three to survive. Usually, appreciation is usually the first to go. And then evaluation and coaching get tangled up together. But regardless of the quality of the feedback we’re getting, we often reject it anyway.

There are three basic triggered reactions that cause us to block feedback.

  • Truth Triggers – Is it true?
  • Relationship Triggers – Do I trust the source of the feedback?
  • Identity Triggers – Does it fit with the story that I tell myself about myself?

In order to receive feedback well, we must learn not to react first thing. We can’t assume that we know the story without getting all of the facts of what the giver means. We need to see ourselves clearly by getting rid of our blind spots. In order to do that, we have to ask a friend for honest feedback and supportive help.

When leaders become good feedback receivers:

  • you’ll get honest and helpful feedback.
  • you’ll role model the behavior that you want to see.
  • you’ll automatically become a better feedback giver.

Lastly, the key to getting the kind of feedback that is most helpful is by focusing on “one thing.”

  • What is “one thing” that you particularly appreciate?
  • What is “one thing” that you seem me doing or not doing?
  • What is “one thing” that you feel I should change?

When we start receiving feedback well, people will start giving us more than just the “one thing” that we ask for. And when that happens, we will start to realize that true feedback isn’t a violation of the two basic human needs (growth & acceptance), but the best way to serve both.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Sheila Heen has spent two decades at the Harvard Negotiation Project specializing in our most difficult conversations–where disagreements are strong, emotions run high and relationships become strained. Her firm, Triad Consulting Group, works with executive teams to strengthen their working relationships, work through tough conversations and make sound decisions together. She has written two New York Times bestsellers, including her most recent, Thanks for the Feedback, which helps leadership improve their ability to receive feedback.

I am getting into artwork.

There are a few things that my wife and I just can’t seem to do: Take pictures with our camera (to be honest, I don’t even know where our camera is at the moment), enjoy seafood, or hang pictures or artwork on the wall. In the decade that we’ve been married, we just haven’t developed the knack for these things.

But on our recent trip to Chicago, we conquered two-thirds of them in one fell swoop. No, we didn’t enjoy any lake trout.* We visited The Art of Dr. Seuss Gallery at Water Tower Place on the Magnificent Mile.

Not only did they let us take photos (we borrowed a camera for the trip because–as mentioned previously–we don’t know where ours is now), but we found things that we would actually want to hang on the walls of our home.

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There are only two obstacles to actually solving the “hanging pictures on the walls of our house” problem with these magnificent pieces.

  1. We are between permanent residences at the moment and the painting wouldn’t fit with our current decor.
  2. These paintings and art prints are crazy expensive and it would be difficult to justify the expense since they don’t serve a practical purpose in the same way that kitchen tools or clothing might.

In the meantime, now I know that this art gallery exists. And vicariously (if you didn’t already), now you do too.

Check out their website here.

*There is no amount of cajoling that you can do to convince me to enjoy fish. There have been people in the past who insist that the way that they prepare the scaly devils will somehow make them taste less like fish. To that argument, I offer this rebuttal: There are many things that are not fish that already taste less like fish; I will save you the trouble and eat them instead.

Friday 5 | Click-worthy Links

Wireless Computer Mouse with Wheel

Here are 5 more places online worth checking out:

  1. Have you ever wondered what would happen if a terrorist got hold of a nuclear weapon and detonated it in the city where you work? Wonder no longer! Just drag the marker to your town and detonate a digital nuke.
  2. I know that writers have a thing for writing on a typewriter. I don’t personally have a thing for typing on a typewriter, but if I did, I’d be tempted to use this website that replicates the typewriter experience.
  3. You know how sometimes when you are watching a movie and you see a car and you wonder what type of car it is? Here’s the IMDB for vehicles: IMCDb.org.
  4. Cheese!
  5. Ever wonder how many years old you would be if you were born on a different planet within our solar system? Some planets move around the sun faster than others. For instance, if I were born on Uranus, my first birthday would be on the 12th December, 2066 (my Earth birthday was 33 years ago).


Muslims have Mecca; I have the Lego Store.

My wife and I just got home from a trip to Chicago. As part of our 10 year anniversary celebration, we went to Chicago for a day of museums, cheesecake, and Lego fun. And before you think that we only did the things that I wanted to do, let me assure you that we did. I’m terribly selfish that way.

Believe it or not, I had never been to the Lego Store. Sure, I’ve loitered in the Lego aisle of every store that has a selection of toys, but being in the Lego store was different. For one thing, there were giant Lego statues.

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For another, there were mini-figure building stations where you could assemble your own custom Lego mini-figures to take home (for the low price of $10 for 3 mini-figures). So that is exactly what I did.


My wife helped me pick out the best configurations for some unique characters. You’ll see them individually in the days to come (as Lego Story Prompts which pop up on my blog every Saturday), but here they are in the package: Judy the Queasy Nurse, Stubby the Pirate with his pet seagull, and Old-Timey Ninja Policeman.


If you are a Lego fan, you should consider making the trip yourself. It was more fun thank you can shake a brick at.