First Day of School

Today the new school year started. Where did the summer go? Here she is waiting for her school bus. She’s has to be one of the top three most colorfully dressed in her entire school. And this is just a typical outfit.

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Finally her bus arrives, about 30 minutes late. As it turns out, the return ride was 55 minutes late. So much for the transportation system being ready to go. I hate it when the prevailing attitude expressed is “It’s the first day, so the buses always run late.” Why is that? The first day was predictably known for months. The process of routes, pick ups, and drop offs ain’t rocket science.

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Fortunately, for our daughter, the first day was great fun!

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#7

Our daughter just had another birthday. It’s hard to believe how big and grown up she is. One of the things friends told us about having kids is how amazingly fast they seem to grow up. I must say it’s true.

Happy Birthday, Darling!

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Quick Question

This afternoon, our daughter asked her mother if we were going to have chilled zucchini soup on Friday. When told yes, she responded with a yippee! How many six year olds would ask such a question and be excited at the answer?

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School’s Out!!!

School is out for the summer, as of last Friday! Our daughter had been looking forward to summer vacation for weeks. Yet, just off the last bus home for the school year, her first emotion involved tears and sniffles. It turns out she was already missing her friends.

We have scheduled a moderate number of events for her, leaving plenty of time to just play and be a kid. Summer camps come later involving dance, painting and guitar. At home, she writes daily in her journal as well as reads. This morning, she found her journal from last summer, spending a good hour reminiscing. A couple times each week she has a math assignment.

A third ‘wheel’ – complete with handle bars and pedals – has been attached to my bicycle. We’ve already ridden the “tricycle” twice on the trails in a nearby park. (For me, this is the first time back on a bike in almost two years after my tumble over the handle bars, resulting in numerous bruises on my arm, hip, thigh and knee and a broken collar bone. It feels good to be riding again.)

Her goal is to quickly lose the training wheels on her bike and gain the skill and confidence to ride the trails with me. She alternates days on our tricycle and her bike. I think she’ll meet her goal pretty soon.

After riding this morning in very muggy conditions – thank goodness it wasn’t really hot, a dip in a neighborhood pool felt pretty good. She should be swimming almost every day.

On the calendar, school begins in about 80 days. Judging from the first few days, it should be a good summer for our new second grader!

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Gardening – Follow Up

A quick follow up to last week’s gardening post… Some results!

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Gardening

My wife has the most amazing green thumb. Our yard is ablaze in colors, front and back. On the balcony off the porch in back, vegetables, spices, and flowers fight to see which can grow the fastest. Nearby, our plot in a community garden thrives. See below.

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It’s still May and the harvests have begun. Zucchini has been big this week. As I write this, my wife, daughter and honorary aunt are hard at work pickling zucchini. Between the organic produce weekly delivery and our own yields, we eat sumptuous fresh unprocessed local foods.

As positive as gardening is for one’s diet, I am even more excited about the life lessons gardening teaches our daughter: planning, nurturing, patience, resource management, to name a few.

What a glorious day!

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Bucket Fillers

Everyone has a bucket representing one’s emotional and mental state.  You are either a filler or a dipper, depending on whether you or those around you are adding to or taking from your bucket.  Kind or Unkind.  Respectful or Disrespectful.  Sincere or Insincere.  Positive or Negative.  When your bucket is full, you feel happy, secure, balanced, calm.  When empty, you feel the opposite.

(See the book by Donald Clifton and Tom Rath,  How Full is your Bucket?  Positive Strategies for Work and Life, or just Google “bucket fillers” for more information.)

Congratulations from the Principal

Earlier this week, we were notified that our daughter had won a Bucket Filler Award for her class at her school this month.  Yesterday, her Grandma and I attended the award ceremony.  The twenty plus kids were clearly thrilled to be so recognized and cognizant of  what the honor meant.

The ceremony was short and sweet, yet very effective.  We had the opportunity to stop by my daughter’s classroom briefly afterwards.  Several of her friends were excited for her.  They, too, had connected and bought in to the concept.

Each time the award is given throughout the school year it is tied in to the values being taught at that time.  All in all, very nicely done.  Once again, I get to play the role of proud Daddy.  Our little (not so little really) girl is growing up so well before our eyes.

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Women’s Sports

You should know that 1. I have no idea what sporting interests my daughter may or may not have in the future, and 2. I have no formal background in marketing and promotion.

It goes without saying, however, as a father, that I want the best possible opportunities for her.  By extension, I want the same opportunities for all young girls out there.  It is only fair.

The NCAA Division I Basketball Championships are for both men and women.  As both tournaments began this past weekend, it became painfully obvious how disparate the coverage is.  Every men’s game is carried live on television and is available to stream to your computer, tablet or smartphone for at most $3.99 total for all of the games.

By contrast, EPSN offers only one game at a time (with some cut-aways occasionally to other games).  The choice from the self-declared world-wide leader in sports is baffling at best.  On Saturday, my wife and I sat down to watch the University of South Carolina Lady Gamecocks play.  After about a minute of play with the score 3-2, ESPN gave us the game they wanted us to watch, Texas & West Virginia, which was then tipping off.

Understand that we live under a hundred miles from the USC campus.  USC is the closest team in the tournament to where we live.  In my book, we are obviously located in the USC market.  More broadly, this is ACC and SEC country.  USC is in the SEC.  The University of Texas, part of the Big 12 (at least until they can find a bigger pot and brighter rainbow for themselves), is 1,200 miles away while West Virginia, part of the Big East (at least for another week or two, until they move way west to hopefully bigger pots and larger rainbows), is 400 miles away.  They are fine institutions, but in this part of the country, who cares.

So, the game I want isn’t on ESPN2.  No problem, I thought, as I’ll just go to ESPN3 (formerly ESPN360 and being re-branded again into Watch EPSN, I think) and stream the game.  Oooopss.  ESPN limits access to EPSN3 to providers of their choice.  Because I have chosen a satellite provider, ESPN says it’s not interested in my patronage.  The issue here lies in hidden monthly subscriber fees assessed on all, mostly unknowing, customers, not just those who watch sports, of an ESPN-approved signal provider (read:  provider who agrees to charge all its customers an ESPN access fee and pass it on).  That’s another issue entirely, too lengthy to cover here today.

Never mind, EPSN3.  Let’s see what it costs for pay-per-view.  A current movie blockbuster runs at most $4.99, so a similar length basketball game ought to be no more than than that, probably less, since, honestly, demand for game is less.  Wrong again, it’s $16 per game!  At this point, reluctantly I passed on the Lady Gamecocks in action and turned off ESPN (and the television entirely), a few choice words under my breath.

I get that interest in men’s and women’s sports is not equal at all, for which there are many reasons.   But we cannot undo the past, only change future direction.  Girls and women have benefited immensely from Title IX for the past 30 years.  The increase in sports participation for women is dramatic.  Participation is the base on which promotion can build.

We need similar improvements in promoting women’s sports.  It will take years, so we better get started.  Seat by seat, viewer by viewer, women’s sports has to be built and promoted.  Part of this means that the opportunity to watch women playing sports has to be easy and widespread.  For decades, the NFL has insisted on free (non pay-per-view) television coverage of every team in its home market for all its games.  The ratings and interest enjoyed by the NFL today were built one fan at a time for the past 50 years.

It looks to me like ESPN has little interest in covering the women’s tournament early rounds extensively, for what it perceives to be valid financial reasons.  I’m sure the ratings  and pay-per-view revenue tell them this.  Given the fact that every tournament game has ESPN cameras and announcers already in place, they should make it easy, not hard,  to watch all the games.  That way they have a chance to build an audience over time, one viewer at at time.

Listen up college sports administrators.  You too, NCAA.   Insist that your broadcast partners cover every game and make them easy to watch.  Don’t turn away those who already have an interest.  Build interest in women’s sports.  It will take time.  It might be faster than we think, if some events go viral.

Our daughters will benefit tomorrow from increased opportunities.  Let’s do it for them.  It’s the right thing to do.

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Extracurricular Activities

It’s Monday afternoon. That means my daughter and I are at her guitar lesson. On Wednesday, it will be swimming lessons. She is six. What is the right amount of extracurricular activities for her? Right now, two times a week with a day in between seems about right. By Friday, she’s pretty tired with school and everything else.

During summer break, we do several day camps, swim almost daily, and do a fair amount of traveling. That is in addition to our insistence that she read daily as well. We are most fortunate that she loves school and, in particular, reading.

I don’t have the answer to my question, so we’ll just go by feel. As she continues to grow up, her desire to do more as well as her capacity for more should both increase, hopefully in balance. We’ll play it all by ear.

Like everything else about her, it should be fun to watch. As I’ve said before, I can’t wait.

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Happy Valentine’s Day !!!

As I was leaving the store today, three dozen long stemmed red roses in my arms, I was approached by a woman, who, smiling, said, “Lotta girl friends, eh?”  I responded, “Absolutely, my mother, my wife and my daughter.”  We smiled broadly and moved on.

Happy Valentine’s Day!  I am thrice blessed and fortunate.  No need to say anything more.

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